The association between daytime sleepiness and sleep-disordered breathing in NREM and REM sleep

Naresh M. Punjabi, Karen Bandeen-Roche, Jason J. Marx, David N. Neubauer, Philip L. Smith, Alan R. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background: Daytime sleepiness is common in patients with sleep-disordered breathing. Although respiratory events during sleep are associated with the occurrence of daytime sleepiness, the differential impact of these events during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep on daytime sleepiness has not been well characterized. Study Objectives: To determine the effect of respiratory events during REM sleep and NREM sleep on daytime sleepiness, as assessed by the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: University-based sleep disorders laboratory. Participants: Patients referred for polysomnography and daytime MSLT (n=1,821). Interventions: N/A Measurements and Results: The study sample was initially divided into quartiles based on the level of the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) during NREM sleep. Within the first NREM-AHI quartile (NREM-AHI < 8.3 events/hr), the association between REM-related respiratory events and daytime sleepiness was examined using the method of Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazards regression. After adjusting for age, gender, body mass index, and the duration of NREM and REM sleep, REM-AHI was not associated with daytime sleepiness (Relative Risk: 1.01; 95%CI: 0.94-1.10). Similarly, no significant association was observed between REM-AHI and the MSLT in patients within the second through fourth NREM-AHI quartiles. In contrast, increasing severity of disordered breathing during NREM sleep was associated with daytime sleepiness. For a 10-point increase in NREM-AHI, the adjusted relative risks for daytime sleepiness in the second through fourth NREM-AHI quartile were 1.21 (95%CI: 1.01-1.46), 1.20 (95%CI: 1.05-1.37), and 1.10 (95%CI: 1.04-1.16), respectively. Conclusion: Sleep-disordered breathing during NREM sleep, but not REM sleep, is associated with increased risk of daytime sleepiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2002


  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Multiple sleep latency test
  • Non-rapid eye movement sleep
  • Rapid eye movement sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Survival analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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