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Sleep Med. 2012 Feb;13(2):178-84. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2011.10.025. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

REM and NREM sleep-state distribution of respiratory events in habitually snoring school-aged community children.

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Department of Pediatrics, Comer Children's Hospital, Pritzker School of Medicine, Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.



Studies ascribe different functions to rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, such that their disruption could result in discrepant clinical outcomes. Although sleep architecture is globally preserved in children with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), it is considered to be an REM sleep REMS disorder. Furthermore, body position during sleep affects the occurrence of respiratory events, while the presence of obesity has been claimed to affect sleep-state distribution of respiratory disturbance.


To explore the distribution of respiratory events during REMS and NREM sleep NREMS and its potential predictors, a cross-sectional analysis of 335 overnight sleep studies in snoring children from the community was conducted. The ratio of REMS to NREMS respiratory events was compared, and potential associations were assessed using general linear modelling (GLM).


Children were 7.3±1.2 years old and had a body mass index (BMI) z-score of 1.0±1.3. The obstructive apnoea-hypopnea index (OAHI) was 1.7±3 and 45.8% of children had an apnoea-hypopnea index (AHI) >1h(-1) total sleep time (TST). Obstructive respiratory events were 3.8 times more likely in REMS (2.0 h(-1)) than NREMS (0.5h(-1)), and the GLM revealed distinctive predictive associations for the apnoeic and hypopneic indices separately, and for body position, the latter indicating that the REMS/NREMS distribution of respiratory events depends on body position.


Obstructive respiratory events are predominantly, albeit not exclusively, present in REMS in school-aged children. NREMS respiratory events are more likely in the presence of lower oxyhaemoglobin saturations during event, side body position and in African-American children. However, REMS dominance is not affected by either BMI z-score or obesity. Our findings suggest that incorporating comprehensive respiratory event profiles of children may enhance our understanding of the pathophysiology and adverse outcomes in the context of paediatric OSA.

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