Sleep Across the Life Cycle and Circadian Rhythms
A fundamental understanding of normal sleep and wakefulness, along with related behavioral and physiologic variables, provides the basis from which sleep disorders in patients of all ages can be identified. It is also crucial that a sleep professional has a fundamental understanding of each sleep disorder as patterns and stages of sleep and wakefulness and the distribution, proportion and progression of different stages of sleep and wakefulness across a sleep episode develop and change from birth through old age.
In “Normal Sleep & Circadian Rhythms,” the first module of the AAST Enhanced CCSH Designated Education Program Recorded Modules, Rita Brooks, MEd, RPSGT, REEG/EPT, FAAST, discusses the basics of sleep and normal sleep development from infancy to geriatric adulthood. Understanding the elements of the electroencephalogram (EEG) signal and the development of EEG patterns from infancy through adulthood and incorporating the behavioral aspects of sleep in the pediatric population helps the learner identify normal pediatric through adult wake and sleep patterns. Additionally, an understanding of the EEG signal and the development of EEG patterns helps learners to better describe characteristic aspects of normal sleep and waking in different age groups.
The module includes a review of the brain structures involved in waking and sleep, an in-depth review of the characteristics of EEG waveforms and a discussion of the additional physiological parameters such as eye movements and chin electromyography (EMG) — all of which are essential to identifying the sleep/wake stages. Specific characteristics of normal sleep and the changes that occur over the life cycle are also a major focus of this module.
The module also notes the two-process mode of sleep along with a well-developed discussion on the circadian and ultradian rhythms of sleep. Circadian rhythm disorders in various age groups are presented in conjunction with the actigraphy patterns that accompany some of these disorders.
A thorough knowledge of the fundamentals presented in this module is crucial to the understanding of normal sleep so that sleep professionals have a basis for understanding, evaluating and educating about sleep and the associated disorders.