Sleep spindles, bursts of electroencephalogram (EEG) activity in the s-frequency (11–16 Hz) range, may be bio-markers of cortical development. Studies capturing the transition to adolescence are needed to delineate age-related, sex-related, and pubertal-related changes in sleep spindles at the population-level. We analyzed the sleep EEG of 572 subjects 6–21 years (48% female) and 332 subjects 5–12 years (46% female) followed-up at 12–22 years. From 6to21years,spindledensity(p quadratic = 0.019) and fast (12–16 Hz) spindle percent (p quadratic = 0.016) showed inverted U-shaped trajectories, with plateaus after 15 and 19 years, respectively. Spindle frequency increased (p linear, 0.001), while spindle power decreased (p linear, 0.001) from 6 to 21 years. The trajectories of spindle den-sity, frequency, and fast spindle percent diverged between females and males, in whom density plateaued by 14 years, fast spindle percent by 16 years, and frequency by 18 years, while fast spindle percent and spindle frequency continued to increase until 21 years in females. Males experienced a longitudinal increase in spindle density 31% greater than females by 12–14 years (p = 0.006). Females experienced an increase in spindle frequency and fast spindle percent 2% and 41% greater, respectively, than males by 18–22 years (both p = 0.004), while males experienced a 14% greater decline in spindle power by 18–22 years (p = 0.018). Less mature adolescents (86% male) experienced a longitudinal increase in spindle density 36% greater than mature adolescents by 12–14 years (p = 0.002). Overall, males experience greater maturational changes in spindle density in the transition to adolescence, driven by later pubertal development, and sex differences become prominent in early adulthood when females have greater spindle power, frequency, and fast spindle percent.
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