Study Objectives: Determine if changes in K-complexes associated with sustained inspiratory airflow limitation (SIFL) during N2 sleep are associated with next-day vigilance and objective sleepiness. Methods: Data from thirty subjects with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea who completed three in-lab polysomnograms: diagnostic, on therapeutic continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), and on suboptimal CPAP (4 cmH2O below optimal titrated CPAP level) were analyzed. Four 20-min psychomotor vigilance tests (PVT) were performed after each PSG, every 2 h. Changes in the proportion of spontaneous K-complexes and spectral characteristics surrounding K-complexes were evaluated for K-complexes associated with both delta (∆SWAK), alpha (∆αK) frequencies. Results: Suboptimal CPAP induced SIFL (14.7 (20.9) vs 2.9 (9.2); %total sleep time, p < 0.001) with a small increase in apnea-hypopnea index (AHI3A: 6.5 (7.7) vs 1.9 (2.3); p < 0.01) versus optimal CPAP. K-complex density (num./min of stage N2) was higher on suboptimal CPAP (0.97 ± 0.7 vs 0.65±0.5, #/min, mean ± SD, p < 0.01) above and beyond the effect of age, sex, AHI3A, and duration of SIFL. A decrease in ∆SWAK with suboptimal CPAP was associated with increased PVT lapses and explained 17% of additional variance in PVT lapses. Within-night during suboptimal CPAP K-complexes appeared to alternate between promoting sleep and as arousal surrogates. Electroencephalographic changes were not associated with objective sleepiness. Conclusions: Sustained inspiratory airflow limitation is associated with altered K-complex morphology including the increased occurrence of K-complexes with bursts of alpha as arousal surrogates. These findings suggest that sustained inspiratory flow limitation may be associated with nonvisible sleep fragmentation and contribute to increased lapses in vigilance.
- inspiratory flow limitation
- sleep apnea
- sleep disordered breathing
- upper airway resistance syndrome