Modulation of upper and lower esophageal sphincter tone during sleep

Peter R. Eastwood, Sawako Katagiri, Kelly L. Shepherd, David R. Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background and purpose: The pressures generated within the upper esophageal sphincter (PUES) and lower esophageal sphincter (PLES) reflect the integrity of these barriers to gastroesophageal and pharyngoesophageal reflux, respectively. This study sought to describe the effects of sleep, respiration and posture on the function of the UES and the LES and the pressure differentials developed across them. Methods: Ten healthy volunteers (7M, 3F: 38 ± 10 yr) without a history of sleep-disordered breathing or reflux underwent overnight polysomnography with simultaneous measurement of PLES and PUES using a purpose-built sleeve device (Dentsleeve). Posture was recorded but not controlled. Results: Subjects slept for 4.3 ± 1.6 h. Compared to waking values, both end-inspiratory and end-expiratory Pues were significantly less during slow wave sleep (SWS) (p < 0.05). However, PLES was unaffected by sleep stage. During wakefulness and all stages of sleep, both PUES and PLES were greater at end-inspiration than end-expiration (p < 0.05). Similar relationships were observed whether subjects were supine or in the lateral decubitus position. Conclusion: Sleep decreases the effectiveness of the UES to act as a barrier to pharyngoesophageal reflux, particularly during slow wave sleep (SWS). UES pressure varies with respiration, with minimal values observed during expiration. Hence, barrier function of the UES appears most impaired during SWS, in the expiratory phase of the respiratory cycle. The LES pressure and its barrier pressure also vary with respiration, being least during expiration. However, unlike the UES, the function of the LES was unaffected by sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Expiration
  • Inspiration
  • Lower esophageal sphincter
  • Respiration
  • Sleep
  • Upper esophageal sphincter


Dive into the research topics of 'Modulation of upper and lower esophageal sphincter tone during sleep'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this