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Keywords:

  • chronic alcoholics;
  • sleep polygraphy;
  • delirium tremens;
  • slow wave sleep;
  • REM sleep;
  • stage 1-REM with tonic EMG;
  • stage 1 with REMs

Abstract: The sleep pattern of 13 alcoholics was recorded for five consecutive nights after the cessation of alcohol intake. In six of the 13 patients, delirium tremens occurred after hospitalization. A decrease of total sleep time and slow wave sleep was more pronounced in the patients with delirium tremens than in those without. REM sleep had slightly decreased in both groups. Rebound increase in REM sleep had not been observed in all the patients with delirium tremens. Stage 1-REM with tonic EMG was observed in these two groups.

From these results we are inclined to hypothesize that a deficiency of cerebral 5-HT in alcoholics may lead to a pronounced decrease in slow wave sleep, with rapid eye movements appearing in stage 1 sleep.