Night-time autonomic nervous system ultradian cycling and masticatory muscle activity

Laura R. Iwasaki, Luigi M. Gallo, Michala Markova, Stefan Erni, Hongzeng Liu, Jeff C. Nickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: To test if there was a correlation between night-time masticatory muscle activity, as measured by duty factors, and ultradian cycling of autonomic nervous system (ANS) spectral powers in subjects without temporomandibular disorder (TMD)-related pain. Setting and Sample Population: The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. Three women and four men of average ages 38 ±8 and 56 ± 17 years, respectively, gave informed consent to participate. Material and Methods: Investigators taught subjects to record heart (electrocardiography, ECG) and masticatory muscle activities (electromyography, EMG). ECG recordings were analysed for ANS ultradian cycling by a polynomial fit to the ratio of sympathetic and parasympathetic spectral powers (ms 2 ). Masseter and temporalis EMG recordings were analysed over 20-minute epochs around peaks and valleys in the ANS ultradian cycles. Duty factors (% time of masticatory muscle activity/20-minute epoch) were determined relative to average threshold EMG (T EMG ) required to produce a given bite force (N). Regression analyses quantified relationships between normalized muscle duty factors and ANS spectral powers. Results: Subjects made a total of 27 sets of night-time ECG and EMG recordings that averaged 6.6 ± 1.1 hours per recording. Highest average duty factors were associated with T EMG of 1-2 N and showed cumulative masseter and temporalis activities of 9.2 and 8.8 seconds/20-minute epoch, respectively. Normalized masticatory muscle duty factors showed non-linear relationships with normalized sympathetic (R 2  = +0.82), parasympathetic (R 2  = −0.70) and sympathetic/parasympathetic spectral powers (R 2  = +0.75). Conclusions: Night-time ANS spectral powers showed ultradian cycling and were correlated with masseter and temporalis muscle activities in adult subjects without TMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalOrthodontics and Craniofacial Research
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - May 2019


  • autonomic nervous system
  • duty factor
  • masticatory muscle
  • sleep
  • ultradian cycles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthodontics
  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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