Sleep-related disorders are revisited in the light of the physiological modality of NREM sleep expressed by the cyclic alternating pattern (CAP). Owing to its fluctuating properties on vigilance, muscle tone, and vegetative activities, CAP represents a highly favorable condition for the occurrence of interictal generalized and focal lesional EEG discharges, for motor seizures, and for periodic jerks in nocturnal myoclonus. All these manifestations are significantly associated with the components of activation during CAP, i.e., the A phases. On the contrary, the B phases of CAP appear chronologically linked to inhibitory phenomena in epileptic patients and in nocturnal myoclonus. The two phases of CAP seem especially involved in sleep apnea syndrome, where respiration is interrupted during a phase B and restored during a phase A. CAP rate, that measures the effort of the brain to maintain sleep, is increased by all conditions that induce vigilance instability such as noise, clinical insomnia, interictal EEG paroxysms, nocturnal seizures, periodic leg movements, and in certain extreme pathologic conditions such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and stage 2 coma.
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