Arousal reactions in sleepwalking and night terrors in adults: the role of respiratory events

Fabrice Espa, Yves Dauvilliers, Basile Ondze, Michel Billiard, Alain Besset
Sleep 2002, 25 (8): 871-5

STUDY OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to determine the role of respiratory events, assessed by means of esophageal pressure monitoring, during arousals from slow wave sleep in adult patients with parasomnias.



PATIENTS: Ten patients with parasomnias (sleepwalking, night terrors, or both) and 10 control subjects matched for gender and age underwent 3 consecutive nights of polysomnography.


MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: By increasing sleep fragmentation, esophageal pressure monitoring has a deleterious effect on sleep architecture in patients with parasomnias and in control subjects. Respiratory events occur more frequently in parasomniacs than in controls. Respiratory effort seems to be responsible for the occurrence of a great number of arousal reactions in parasomniacs and is involved in triggering the parasomnia episodes.

CONCLUSION: Sleep-disordered breathing seems to be frequently associated with parasomnias during slow wave sleep, emphasizing the utility of performing esophageal pressure monitoring in cases of sleep walking or night terrors.

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