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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1991 Jun;70(6):2574-81.

Influence of sleep on tensor palatini EMG and upper airway resistance in normal men.

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  • 1Pulmonary Division, Denver Veterans Administration Medical Center, Colorado.


We propose that a sleep-induced decrement in the activity of the tensor palatini (TP) muscle could induce airway narrowing in the area posterior to the soft palate and therefore lead to an increase in upper airway resistance in normal subjects. We investigated the TP to determine the influence of sleep on TP muscle activity and the relationship between changing TP activity and upper airway resistance over the entire night and during short sleep-awake transitions. Seven normal male subjects were studied on a single night with wire electrodes placed in both TP muscles. Sleep stage, inspiratory airflow, transpalatal pressure, and TP moving time average electromyogram (EMG) were continuously recorded. In addition, in two of the seven subjects the activity (EMG) of both the TP and the genioglossus muscle simultaneously was recorded throughout the night. Upper airway resistance increased progressively from wakefulness through the various non-rapid-eye-movement sleep stages, as has been previously described. The TP EMG did not commonly demonstrate phasic activity during wakefulness or sleep. However, the tonic EMG decreased progressively and significantly (P less than 0.05) from wakefulness through the non-rapid-eye-movement sleep stages [awake, 4.6 +/- 0.3 (SE) arbitrary units; stage 1, 2.6 +/- 0.3; stage 2, 1.7 +/- 0.5; stage 3/4, 1.5 +/- 0.8]. The mean correlation coefficient between TP EMG and upper airway resistance across all sleep states was (-0.46). This mean correlation improved over discrete sleep-awake transitions (-0.76). No sleep-induced decrement in the genioglossus activity was observed in the two subjects studied.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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