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Keywords:

  • Auditory arousal threshold;
  • Ontogenesis;
  • Sleep;
  • Children;
  • Adolescents;
  • Young adults

Abstract

Developmental variations in auditory arousal thresholds during sleep were investigated in four groups of normal male subjects - children, preadolescents, adolescents, and young adults. Arousal thresholds were determined during NREM and REM sleep for tones presented via earphone insert on a single night following two adaptation nights of undisturbed sleep. Age-related relationships were observed for both awakening frequency and stimulus intensity required to effect awakening, with awakenings occurring more frequently in response to lower stimulus intensities with increasing age. Although stimulus intensities required for awakening were high and statistically equivalent across sleep stages in nonadults, higher intensity stimuli were required in Stage 4 relative to Stage 2 and REM sleep in adults. These results confirm previous observations of marked resistance to awakening during sleep in preadolescent children and suggest that processes underlying awakening from sleep undergo systematic modification during ontogenetic development.