Arousals and sleep stages in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome: changes under nCPAP treatment
Nocturnal arousals are the essential cause of disturbed sleep structure in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS). The aim of this study was to analyse the relationship between sleep stages, respiratory (type-R) and movement (type-M) related EEG arousals. Furthermore, the value of these arousals as a criterion for the efficiency of nCPAP treatment was estimated. We examined 38 male patients aged between 30 and 71 (49.1±20.9 SD) y. All patients suffered from OSAS. The mean respiratory disturbance index (RDI) was 47.3±27.8 per h. Polysomnographic monitoring was carried out on 4 subsequent nights: baseline night, 2 nights of nCPAP titration and nCPAP control night. Sleep was visually scored and EEG arousals were classified into type R and M, depending on whether changes of respiration or movement caused the arousal. The RDI, the R index (type-R/h), the M index (type-M/h) and the R and M indices in different sleep stages were calculated. During the baseline night a deficit of slow wave sleep (SWS) and REM sleep was found. Furthermore there were more type-R than type-M arousals registered (17.4 h−1[3.6–43.6] vs. 5.9 h−1[1.6–11.8]) (P<0.01). They occurred during stages NREM 1, NREM 2 and REM (P<0.01). An SWS sleep rebound and a reduction of the SWS and REM latencies were already found during the first CPAP night. The R index was reduced during the first CPAP night in all sleep stages (P<0.01) and remained approximately the same in the following 2 nights (3. CPAP night: 1.1 h−1[0.3–5.0]). Type M arousals occurred more in stages 1 and 2 (P<0.01), and remained unchanged under nCPAP. We concluded that differentiation of nocturnal arousals may provide more detailed information regarding the influence of breathing disturbances on sleep. Respiratory related, not movement related, arousals may be a useful additional tool in judging the efficiency of OSAS.
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