The relationship between estrogen and the decline in delta power during adolescence

Andrew W. McHill, Elizabeth B. Klerman, Bridgette Slater, Tairmae Kangarloo, Piotr W. Mankowski, Natalie D. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: During adolescence, there is a precipitous decrease in slow-wave sleep (SWS) and its spectral correlate, delta power, which may reflect cortical reorganization. The temporal association between the decrease in delta power and puberty suggests that sex steroids may initiate these changes. This association has not been previously investigated. Methods: To determine whether estrogen triggers the adolescent decline in delta power, we compared delta power in 14 girls with central precocious puberty (CPP) and 6 age-matched, prepubertal controls. Five CPP participants were re-studied 7-14 months after pubertal suppression to determine if the changes in delta power are reversible after restoring a prepubertal hormonal milieu. The change in delta power was also compared between CPP participants and five historic controls from a longitudinal polysomnographic study. Results: CPP participants (6.7-10.5 years) spent 30% of the night in SWS. Delta power (3.7 × 106 ± 2.7 × 105 μV2) predominated in the first 2 non-rapid eye movement episodes and decayed exponentially (tau 0.006 minutes). Age-matched controls demonstrated similar sleep staging (24% SWS) and delta dynamics (3.3 × 106 ± 5.1 × 105 μV2, tau 0.004 minutes). Four out of 5 CPP participants had a significant decrease (26%) in delta power after hormone suppression (p < .05), similar to historic controls. Conclusion: Using an innovative model of girls with CPP studied before and after estrogen suppression, the effects of puberty on the decline in delta power were dissociated from those of chronologic age. The current studies suggest that increased estrogen does not cause the adolescent decline in delta power and indicate that neurodevelopmental changes per se or other factors associated with puberty drive these sleep changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberzsx008
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Central precocious puberty
  • Sex steroids
  • Slow-wave activity
  • Slow-wave sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'The relationship between estrogen and the decline in delta power during adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this