A pilot study of sleep, cognition, and respiration under 4 weeks of intermittent nocturnal hypoxia in adult humans

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Sleep Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.15). 04/2009; 10(7):739-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2008.07.013
Source: PubMed


A pilot study to examine the effects of intermittent nocturnal hypoxia on sleep, respiration and cognition in healthy adult humans.
Participants were eight healthy, non-smoking subjects (four male, four female), mean age of 26.4+/-5.2 years, and BMI 22.3+/-2.6 kg/m(2), exposed to 9h of intermittent hypoxia between the hours of 10 P.M. and 7 A.M. for 28 consecutive nights. At a simulated altitude of 13,000 feet (FIO(2) 0.13), intermittent hypoxia was achieved by administering nasal nitrogen, alternating with brief (approximately 5s) boluses of nasal oxygen. Pre- and post-exposure assessments included polysomnography, attention (20-min Psychomotor Vigilance Test), working memory (10-min verbal 2 and 3-back), Multiple Sleep Latency Test, and the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. Obstructive and non-obstructive respiratory events were scored.
Overall sleep quality showed worsening trends but no statistically significant change following exposure. There was no difference after hypoxia in sleepiness, encoding, attention or working memory. Hyperoxic central apneas and post-hyperoxic respiratory instability were noted as special features of disturbed respiratory control induced by intermittent nocturnal hypoxia.
In this model, exposure to nocturnal intermittent hypoxia for 4 weeks caused no significant deficits in subjective or objective alertness, vigilance, or working memory.

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Available from: Judith Boucher, Jan 18, 2016
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    • "Thus, dysregulation of the PFC in humans diagnosed with sleep apnea is thought to underlie, at least in part, the impaired cognitive and executive functioning observed in these patients. However, contrary to these reports of deficits, a recent report on healthy adult humans exposed experimentally to four weeks of IH revealed no significant effects on alertness, vigilance, or working memory (Weiss et al., 2009). "
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