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In humans, EEG power in the theta frequency band (5-8 Hz) during quiet waking increases during sleep deprivation (SD), and predicts the subsequent homeostatic increase of sleep slow-wave activity (SWA; EEG power between 0.5 and 4.0 Hz). These findings indicate that theta power in waking is an EEG variable, which reflects the rise in sleep propensity. In rodents, a number of short sleep attempts, as well as SWA in the waking EEG increase in the course of SD, but neither variable predicts the subsequent homeostatic increase of EEG SWA during recovery sleep. To investigate whether there is an EEG marker for sleep propensity also in rodents, the EEG of the rat was recorded during 6 h SD in the first half of the light period (SDL, n = 7). During SDL, power of the waking EEG showed an increase in the delta (1.5-4 Hz) and low theta (5-6.5 Hz) band. Based on the neck muscle EMG, wakefulness was subdivided into active (high EMG activity) and quiet (low EMG activity) waking. During quiet waking, the theta peak occurred at 5.5 Hz, the frequency at which the increase of EEG power during SD was most pronounced. This increase was due to higher amplitude of theta waves, while wave incidence (frequency) was unchanged. Correlation analysis showed that the rise in EEG power in the 5-7 Hz band during SD predicted the subsequent enhancement of SWA in non-rapid eye movement sleep. The analysis of data of a further batch of rats which were sleep deprived for 6 h after dark onset (SDD, n = 7) revealed a significant increase in theta-wave amplitude during the SD and a tendency for a similar, positive correlation between the increase of theta power (5-7 Hz) and subsequent SWA. The results indicate that in rats, as in humans, a specific waking EEG frequency, i.e., theta power in quiet waking is a marker of sleep propensity.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Res

Publication Date





64 - 71


Animals, Behavior, Animal, Darkness, Homeostasis, Lighting, Male, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Rest, Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Stages, Theta Rhythm, Wakefulness