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Zanker, Antonia; Wöhr, Anna-Caroline; Reese, Sven ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4605-9791 and Erhard, Michael (11. August 2021): Qualitative and quantitative analyses of polysomnographic measurements in foals. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 11, No. 16288 [PDF, 1MB]


Veterinary and human medicine are still seeking a conclusive explanation of the function of sleep, including the change in sleep behaviour over the course of an individual’s lifetime. In human medicine, sleep disorders and abnormalities in the electroencephalogram are used for prognostic statements, therapeutic means and diagnoses. To facilitate such use in foal medicine, we monitored 10 foals polysomnographically for 48 h. Via 10 attached cup electrodes, brain waves were recorded by electroencephalography, eye movements by electrooculography and muscle activity by electromyography. Wireless polysomnographs allowed us to measure the foals in their home stables. In addition, each foal was simultaneously monitored with infrared video cameras. By combining the recorded data, we determined the time budgeting of the foals over 48 h, whereby the states of vigilance were divided into wakefulness, light sleep, slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep, and the body positions into standing, suckling, sternal recumbency and lateral recumbency. The results of the qualitative analyses showed that the brain waves of the foals differ in their morphology from those previously reported for adult horses. The quantitative data analyses revealed that foals suckle throughout all periods of the day, including night time. The results of our combined measurements allow optimizing the daily schedule of the foals according to their sleep and activity times. We recommend that stall rest should begin no later than 9.00 p.m. and daily stable work should be done in the late afternoon.

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