Sleep Disorders/Sleep Questions


Hi Erika,
I've been reading sleep research papers (I'm a layman) and have a few questions, if possible.

1. How many different kinds of sleep receptors are there in the brain?
I've come across quite afew: GABA-A, BZD, CB1 etc.
2. How many different types of neurotransmitters are there out there that affect sleep receptors in the brain?  Lots?
3. Is there only kind of slow wave sleep (SWS)or are there different kinds of SWS?  In other words, are there different "dimensions" to deep sleep?



Hi there. The answer to your first two questions is: what you've found in your research is what they currently know about.

I apologize if I repeat something you already know from researching.

Sleep is such a complex process. Every stage of sleep behaves in a different way, and changes throughout our lifetimes. They still don't know a lot about sleep to be honest! Also, everyone has their own sort of fingerprint of a sleep pattern. They don't know why some people do well with 5 hours (of sleep) and some people cannot function without 12 hours. Why does our brain paralyze us when we dream, and why would we act out our dreams if this process did not happen? Why does our breathing and temperature fluctuate so much when we dream? They can guess and have theories, but they honestly don't really know. I know that is not the greatest answer!

As for delta sleep (SWS), it's basically the same process for everyone. SWS looks like mountains on an EEG. However, when we are young, our delta sleep is extremely large (really big mountains) and we have a LOT of it. They think that it produces growth hormone. As we get older, we get less and less of it, and it becomes more hilly than mountains (I guess that's how I'll describe it!). Many elderly people do not have any SWS. When kids have it, they can have night terrors, by sitting up and screaming bloody murder, and not remember a thing about it. Most of the time, night terrors go away once they hit 10 or so (because their delta sleep is becoming less deep and/or prolonged. Sleep eating and walking also happen during delta sleep, with people not remembering what they did. Again, these typically get better as we get older and resolve on their own. So these are the 'depths' of SWS you speak of. As another interesting side of delta sleep, even when someone has pretty bad sleep apnea, they will typically NOT have any in delta sleep, but will have it in all other stages of sleep. That's kinda weird! It's a very peaceful rhythmic stage of sleep. Also, people with PLMs (periodic leg movements) will most likely have them during this stage of sleep.

I hope I helped some!

Sleep Disorders

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Erika Roggenback


I can answer all questions related to any type of sleep disorders, or sleeping issues, for all ages. For sleeping disorders, these can include narcolepsy, REM Behavior Disorder (RBD), parasomnias such as sleep talking, walking or eating, and many more. I can also help with any issues dealing with sleep apnea or PAP. Lastly, I can give assistance on how to get a better nights sleep, sleep hygiene and how your medications can affect your sleep.


I have been a sleep technologist for 13.5 years, having run studies on people of all ages.

Registered Polysomnographic Technologist

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]