Now, neurologists at the University of Michigan Health System and engineers at Altarum Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich., have discovered evidence that the disruption of sleep in sleep apnea may be much more frequent than the breathing pauses, or apneas, themselves.
In two research papers published in the February issue of the journal Sleep, the researchers describe for the first time evidence that on average, brain waves change with each breath, not just the short periods of the night when apneas occur. Although the data are preliminary, they suggest a whole new thinking in sleep research that eventually might help doctors predict who will suffer consequences of sleep apnea, and who will respond to treatment.
"Complicated studies that require time, money, and technical expertise are often performed in sleep laboratories," says Ronald Chervin, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center and Michael S. Aldrich Sleep Disorders Laboratory at UMHS. "The most common reason is to gauge the severity of sleep apnea. A frustrating problem has been that results of these studies have not predicted the behavioral outcomes of sleep apnea very well. That makes us think that maybe we don't have the best laboratory measures; maybe we are not recording some of the most important features of sleep apnea."
Millions of people experience sleep apnea, a condition in which repeated pauses in breathing during sleep cause many arousals during the night. The nocturnal arousals, in turn, are suspected to be an important cause of daytime symptoms: sleepiness in adults, and attention p
Contact: Nicole Fawcett
University of Michigan Health System