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December 6, 2000

Slow Wave Sleep and Release of Growth Hormone

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(21):2717-2718. doi:10.1001/jama.284.21.2717

To the Editor: Dr Van Cauter and colleagues1 reported that the production of growth hormone (GH) and slow wave (SW) sleep decline in males between ages 16 and 80 years. Based on these and other data, they concluded that "this correlative evidence reflects a common mechanism underlying SW sleep generation and GH release. . . ." However, had Van Cauter et al examined a slightly wider age range, they would have observed quite different patterns. The levels of SW sleep are highest during the first decade of life and then decline precipitously during puberty (between ages 9 and 16 years).2 However, GH secretion is maximal during puberty; the increase is 1.5- to 5-fold.3 Thus, GH and SW sleep levels show their highest rates of change in individuals aged 9 to 16 years, but these changes are in opposite directions. These divergent trajectories are inconsistent with Van Cauter and colleagues' hypothesis that SW sleep and GH are controlled by a "common mechanism."

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