Overnight pulse wave analysis to assess autonomic changes during sleep in insomnia patients and healthy sleepers

Laharnar N; Grote L; Zou D; Hedner J; Sommermeyer D; Straßberger C. et al

Insomnia has been associated with increased cardiovascular (CV) risk, which may be linked to sympathetic activation. Non-invasive overnight pulse wave analysis may be a useful tool to detect early signs of autonomic changes during sleep in insomniacs. Fifty-two participants (26 men, 37±13 years, BMI: 24±5 kg/m2, 26 insomniacs/ 26 controls) underwent overnight polysomnography with pulse oximetry and pulse wave analysis including pulse rate, vascular stiffness (pulse propagation time, PPT), and a composite cardiac risk index based on autonomic function and overnight hypoxia. We identified two subgroups of insomniacs, with and without objectively disturbed sleep (sleep efficiency SE≤80%, n = 14 vs. SE>80%, n = 12), and observed increased pulse rate and vascular stiffness in insomnia cases when diagnosis was based on both, subjective and objective criteria. Both insomnia groups were associated with higher overnight pulse rate than controls (median/ IQR: low-SE (low sleep efficiency): 67/ 58-70bpm; high-SE: 66/ 63-69bpm; controls: 58/ 52-63bpm; p = 0.01). Vascular stiffness was higher (reduction of PPT) in low-SE insomniacs compared with high-SE insomniacs and controls (169/ 147-232ms; 237/ 215-254ms; 244/ 180-284ms; p = 0.01). The cardiac risk index was increased in low-SE insomniacs (0.2/ 0.0–0.7; 0.0/ 0.0–0.4; 0.0/ 0.0–0.3; p = 0.05). Our results suggest a hyperarousal state in young and otherwise healthy insomniacs during sleep. The increased pulse rate and vascular stiffness in insomniacs with low SE suggest early signs of rigid vessels and potentially, an elevated CV risk. Overnight pulse wave analysis may be feasible for CV risk assessment in insomniacs and may provide a useful tool for phenotyping insomnia in order to provide individualized therapy.

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