We hypothesized that sympathetic nervous system activity (SNSA) is increased and parasympathetic nervous system activity (PNSA) is decreased during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep in non-apneic, otherwise healthy, snoring individuals compared to control. Moreover, we hypothesized that these alterations in snoring individuals would be more evident during non-snoring than snoring when compared to control.
To test these hypotheses, heart rate variability was used to measure PNSA and SNSA in 11 normotensive non-apneic snorers and 12 control subjects before and 7-days after adapting to nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP).
Our results showed that SNSA was increased and PNSA was decreased in non-apneic snorers during NREM compared to control. However, these changes were only evident during the study in which snoring was eliminated with nCPAP. Conversely, during periods of snoring SNSA and PNSA were similar to measures obtained from the control group. Additionally, within the control group, SNSA and PNSA did not vary before and after nCPAP application.
Our findings suggest that long-lasting alterations in autonomic function may exist in snoring subjects that are otherwise healthy. Moreover, we speculate that because of competing inputs (i.e. inhibitory versus excitatory inputs) to the autonomic nervous system during snoring, the full impact of snoring on autonomic function is most evident during non-snoring periods.
Cardiology | Public Health
Gates et al. BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2005, 5:9