Does obstructive sleep apnea worsen during REM sleep?

I. Peregrim, S. Grešová, Maria Pallayova, B. L. Fulton, J. Štimmelová, I. Bačová, A. Mikuľaková, Z. Tomori, V. Donič

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Although it is thought that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is worse during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep than in non-REM (NREM) sleep there are some uncertainties, especially about apnoe-hypopnoe-index (AHI). Several studies found no significant difference in AHI between both sleep stages. However, REM sleep is associated more with side sleeping compared to NREM sleep, which suggests that body position is a possible confounding factor. The main purpose of this study was to compare the AHI in REM and NREM sleep in both supine and lateral body position. A retrospective study was performed on 422 consecutive patients who underwent an overnight polysomnography. Women had higher AHI in REM sleep than NREM sleep in both supine (46.05±26.26 vs. 23.91±30.96, P<0.01) and lateral (18.16±27.68 vs. 11.30±21.09, P<0.01) body position. Men had higher AHI in REM sleep than NREM sleep in lateral body position (28.94±28.44 vs. 23.58±27.31, P<0.01), however, they did not reach statistical significance in supine position (49.12±32.03 in REM sleep vs. 45.78±34.02 in NREM sleep, P=0.50). In conclusion, our data suggest that REM sleep is a contributing factor for OSA in women as well as in men, at least in lateral position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-575
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiological Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Apnoe-hypopnoe-index
  • Body position
  • Mixed apnea
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

Cite this

Peregrim, I., Grešová, S., Pallayova, M., Fulton, B. L., Štimmelová, J., Bačová, I., Mikuľaková, A., Tomori, Z., & Donič, V. (2013). Does obstructive sleep apnea worsen during REM sleep? Physiological Research, 62(5), 569-575.