Are age and sex effects on sleep slow waves only a matter of EEG amplitude ?
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofSleep
Publisher(s)Oxford University Press
Aging is associated with reduced slow wave (SW) density (number SW/min in nonrapid-eye movement sleep) and amplitude. It has been proposed that an age-related decrease in SW density may be due to a reduction in electroencephalogram (EEG) amplitude instead of a decline in the capacity to generate SW. Here, we propose a data-driven approach to adapt SW amplitude criteria to age and sex. We predicted that the adapted criteria would reduce age and sex differences in SW density and SW characteristics but would not abolish them. A total of 284 healthy younger and older adults participated in one night of sleep EEG recording. We defined age- and sex-adapted SW criteria in a first cohort of younger (n = 97) and older (n = 110) individuals using a signal-to-noise ratio approach. We then used these age- and sex-specific criteria in an independent second cohort (n = 77, 38 younger and 39 older adults) to evaluate age and sex differences on SW density and SW characteristics. After adapting SW amplitude criteria, we showed maintenance of an age-related difference for SW density whereas the sex-related difference vanished. Indeed, older adults produced less SW compared with younger adults. Specifically, the adapted SW amplitude criteria increased the probability of occurrence of low amplitude SW (<80 µV) for older men especially. Our results thereby confirm an age-related decline in SW generation rather than an artifact in the detection amplitude criteria. As for the SW characteristics, the age- and sex-adapted criteria display reproducible effects across the two independent cohorts suggesting a more reliable inventory of the SW.