Our experiences with sleep-lab technology have been both impressive and disappointing — at much time and expense, patients are hooked into elaborate contraptions, to be monitored all night by staff and cameras and equipment. Yet the reams of generated data sometimes yield few clues as to what’s really wrong with the patient. That might begin to change, with the addition of a simple EKG, according to docs at Beth Israel Deaconness:
The new study, led by sleep researcher Robert Thomas, MD, of BIDMC’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, identified two distinct types of behavior exhibited throughout the course of a person’s sleep, the first being stable and restful, the second being unstable and aroused. The results show that conventional approaches to categorize non-REM (non-rapid-eye-movement) sleep into grades of depth do not capture this potentially important dimension.
“Among healthy adults, physiological behaviors will show relatively abrupt shifts– occurring over minutes–between both stable and unstable sleep, but the stable stage clearly dominates,” explains Goldberger, who is also a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “But,” he adds, “in a variety of disease states, the spectrogram shows that an unstable sleep pattern is predominant, and among patients with severe cases of sleep apnea, virtually all of the patient’s non-REM sleep is unstable.”
More from the exciting journal Sleep…