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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1983 Dec;128(6):984-6.

Sleep deprivation and the control of ventilation.


Sleep deprivation is common in acutely ill patients because of their underlying disease and can be compounded by aggressive medical care. While sleep deprivation has been shown to produce a number of psychological and physiologic events, the effects on respiration have been minimally evaluated. We therefore studied resting ventilation and ventilatory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia before and after 24 h of sleeplessness in 13 healthy men. Hypoxic ventilatory responses (HVR) were measured during progressive isocapnic hypoxia, and hypercapnic ventilatory responses (HCVR) were measured using a rebreathing technique. Measures of resting ventilation, i.e., minute ventilation, tidal volume, arterial oxygen saturation, and end-tidal gas concentrations, did not change with short-term sleep deprivation. Both HVR and HCVR, however, decreased significantly after a single night without sleep. The mean hypoxic response decreased 29% from a slope of 1.20 +/- 0.22 (SEM) to 0.85 +/- 0.15 L/min/% saturation (p less than 0.02), and the slope of the HCVR decreased 24% from 2.07 +/- 0.17 to 1.57 +/- 0.15 L/min/mmHg PCO2 (p less than 0.01). These data indicate that ventilatory chemosensitivity may be substantially attenuated by even short-term sleep deprivation. This absence of sleep could therefore contribute to hypoventilation in acutely ill patients.

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