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Published Online: 29 July 2004

Sleep at High Altitude

Publication: High Altitude Medicine & Biology
Volume 5, Issue Number 2


New arrivals to altitude commonly experience poor-quality sleep. These complaints are associated with increased fragmentation of sleep by frequent brief arousals, which are in turn linked to periodic breathing. Changes in sleep architecture include a shift toward lighter sleep stages, with marked decrements in slow-wave sleep and with variable decreases in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Respiratory periodicity at altitude reflects alternating respiratory stimulation by hypoxia and subsequent inhibition by hyperventilation-induced hypocapnia. Increased hypoxic ventilatory responsiveness and loss of regularization of breathing during sleep contribute to the occurrence of periodicity. Interventions that improve sleep quality at high altitude include acetazolamide and benzodiazepines.

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cover image High Altitude Medicine & Biology
High Altitude Medicine & Biology
Volume 5Issue Number 2May 2004
Pages: 180 - 189
PubMed: 15265339


Published online: 29 July 2004
Published in print: May 2004


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John V. Weil
Cardiovascular Pulmonary Research Laboratory, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 East NinthAvenue, Denver CO

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