Respiratory timing and variability during sleep in children with sleep-disordered breathing. J Appl Physiol 113: 1635-1642, 2012. First published September 27, 2012; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00756.2012.-Sleepdisordered breathing (SDB) in children is assessed by quantification of hypopnea and apnea events. Little is known, however, about respiratory timing and breath-to-breath variability during sleep. The aim of this study was to investigate respiratory parameters across sleep stages in children with SDB before and after treatment compared with healthy children. Overnight polysomnography (PSG) was conducted in 40 children with SDB prior to and 6 mo following adenotonsillectomy. For comparison, a control group of 40 healthy sex- and age-matched children underwent two PSGs at equivalent time points but without intervention. The following variables were measured breath by breath during obstruction-free periods in stage 2 nonrapid eye movement (NREM), stage 4 NREM, and REM sleep: inspiratory time (Ti), expiratory time (Te), total time (Ttotal), inspiratory duty cycle (DC; Ti/Ttotal), respiratory frequency (fR), and SD of the parameters Ti, Te, fR, and DC. Variability in waveform morphology was also computed using the residue of respiratory patterns. The severity of SDB was relatively mild in the study cohort (obstructive apnea hypopnea index: baseline, 5.1 ± 9.4 vs. 0.1 < 0.2, P < 0.001; follow-up, 0.3 ± 0.3 vs. 0.8 ± 1.0, P < 0.01). Compared with healthy controls, children with SDB showed significantly longer Ti and Te and a lower fR at the baseline study. These differences were not significant after adenotonsillectomy. Sleep stages were associated with significant differences in all of the respiratory measures in both groups of children. In conclusion, children with relatively mild SDB showed prolonged inspiration and expiration indicative of chronic narrowing of the upper airway. Treatment of SDB normalizes respiratory timing. Documentation of these parameters may aid in both understanding and management of children with SDB.