Nocturnal variations in postural sway during a period of sustained wakefulness were studied in seven healthy male adults. Postural sways with the subject's eyes open and with them closed were measured every hour from 22:00 to 04:00 h the following day. Parameters of postural sway [rectangle area (RA), root mean square of length in the anterior-posterior direction (RMSL-y), and medium-frequency-band (0.2-1.0 Hz) power of postural sway in the lateral (MF-x) and anterior-posterior (MF-y) directions] showed significant nocturnal variations. RA, RMSL-y, MF-x and MF-y increased after midnight and reached peaks at 04:00 h. Moreover, changes in RA and MF-y depended on visual conditions. The increases in RA and MF-y were larger with the eyes closed than with them open. These postural sway parameters showed positive correlations with subjectively rated sleepiness and negative correlations with electroencephalographic alpha activity. The results suggest that changes in postural sway during the night are influenced by the increase in sleepiness.
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