Adolescence and Parental History of Alcoholism: Insights from the Sleep EEG
Reprint requests: Leila Tarokh, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI; Tel.:401-421-9440; Fax:401-453-3578; E-mail: Leila_Tarokh@brown.edu
Disrupted sleep is a common complaint of individuals with alcohol use disorder and in abstinent alcoholics. Furthermore, among recovering alcoholics, poor sleep predicts relapse to drinking. Whether disrupted sleep in these populations results from prolonged alcohol use or precedes the onset of drinking is not known. The aim of this study was to examine the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) in alcohol-naïve, parental history positive (PH+), and negative (PH−) boys and girls.
All-night sleep EEG recordings in 2 longitudinal cohorts (child and teen) followed at 1.5 to 3 year intervals were analyzed. The child and teen participants were 9/10 and 15/16 years old at the initial assessment, respectively. Parental history status was classified by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria applied to structured interviews (DIS-IV) resulting in 14 PH− and 10 PH+ children and 14 PH− and 10 PH+ teens. Sleep data were visually scored in 30-second epochs using standard criteria. Power spectra were calculated for EEG derivations C3/A2, C4/A1, O2/A1, O1/A2 for nonrapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
We found no difference between PH+ and PH− individuals in either cohort for any visually scored sleep stage variable. Spectral power declined in both cohorts across assessments for NREM and REM sleep in all derivations and across frequencies independent of parental history status. With regard to parental history, NREM sleep EEG power was lower for the delta band in PH+ teens at both assessments for the central derivations. Furthermore, power in the sigma band for the right occipital derivation in both NREM and REM sleep was lower in PH+ children only at the initial assessment.
We found no gross signs of sleep disruption as a function of parental history. Modest differences in spectral EEG power between PH+ and PH− children and teens indicate that a marker of parental alcohol history may be detectable in teens at risk for problem drinking.