Investigating the contribution of distance-based features to automatic sleep stage classification

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Objective: In this paper, the contribution of distance-based features to automatic sleep stage classification is investigated. The potency of these features is analyzed individually and in combination with 48 conventionally used features. Methods: The distance-based set consists of 32 features extracted by calculating Itakura, Itakura-Saito and COSH distances of autoregressive and spectral coefficients of Electrocardiography (EEG) (C3-A2), Left EOG, Chin EMG and ECG signals. All the evaluations are performed on three feature sets: distance-based, conventional and total (combined distance based and conventional). Six ranking methods were used to find the top features with the highest discrimination ability in each set. The ranked feature lists were evaluated using k-Nearest Neighbor (kNN), Artificial Neural Network (ANN), and Decision-tree-based multi-SVM (DSVM) classifiers for five sleep stages including Wake, REM, N1, N2 and N3. Furthermore, the ability of distance-based and conventional features to discriminate between each pair of sleep stages was evaluated using t-test, a hypothesis testing method. Results: Distance-based features occupied 25% of top-ranked features. Simulation results showed that using distance-based features together with conventional features can lead to an enhancement of accuracy. The best classification accuracy (85.5%) was achieved by DSVM classifier and 13 features selected by mRMR-MID and normalized with Min-Max method for total feature set, where two of them were from the distance-based feature set. The t-test results show that distance-based features outperform conventional features in discriminating between N1 and REM stages that is usually a challenge for classification systems. Conclusion: Distance-based features have a positive contribution to sleep stage classification, including enhancement of accuracy and better REM-N1 discrimination ability. Significance: The main motivation for this work was to evaluate new features to characterize each sleep stage in such a way that extracted features were more powerful than conventional features, to distinguish sleep stages from each other, and to improve classifiers accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-23
Number of pages16
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Distance-based features
  • Feature extraction
  • Feature selection
  • Itakura
  • Itakura-saito
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep stage classification


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