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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1988 Sep;65(3):1196-202.

Changes in compartmental ventilation in association with eye movements during REM sleep.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 02904.


The effect of phasic eye movement activity on ventilation during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep was studied in seven healthy young adults by use of the respiratory inductive plethysmograph. Mean ventilation (VE) and ventilatory components during REM sleep were not significantly different from that seen in either stages 1-2 or 3-4 sleep. The percent of rib cage contribution to ventilation in REM sleep, 29.3 +/- 5.1%, was reduced compared with 54.4 +/- 5.8% in stage 1-2 and 52.2 +/- 4.3% in stage 3-4 sleep (P less than 0.005). When one separated breaths by the degree of associated phasic eye movement activity, it became apparent that breathing during REM sleep is very heterogeneous. Increasing eye movement activity was associated with inhibition of ventilation with a reduction in VE from 5.1 +/- 0.3 to 3.8 +/- 0.3 l/min. Tidal volume and frequency both fell, whereas inspiratory duration was unchanged. Compartmental ventilation was also affected, with the fall in the rib cage contribution from 37.8 +/- 6.4 to 15.3 +/- 5.6%. Chest wall and abdominal movement became more asynchronous as phasic-eye-movement activity increased and frank paradoxical breathing was seen.

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