Sleep and Respiration in MicrogravitySleep is often reported to be of poor quality in microgravity, and studies on the ground have shown a strong relationship between sleep-disordered breathing and sleep disruption. During the 16-day Neurolab mission, we studied the influence of possible changes in respiratory function on sleep by performing comprehensive sleep recordings on the payload crew on four nights during the mission. In addition, we measured the changes in the ventilatory response to low oxygen and high carbon dioxide in the same subjects during the day, hypothesizing that changes in ventilatory control might affect respiration during sleep. Microgravity caused a large reduction in the ventilatory response to reduced oxygen. This is likely the result of an increase in blood pressure at the peripheral chemoreceptors in the neck that occurs when the normally present hydrostatic pressure gradient between the heart and upper body is abolished. This reduction was similar to that seen when the subjects were placed acutely in the supine position in one-G. In sharp contrast to low oxygen, the ventilatory response to elevated carbon dioxide was unaltered by microgravity or the supine position. Because of the similarities of the findings in microgravity and the supine position, it is unlikely that changes in ventilatory control alter respiration during sleep in microgravity. During sleep on the ground, there were a small number of apneas (cessation of breathing) and hypopneas (reduced breathing) in these normal subjects. During sleep in microgravity, there was a reduction in the number of apneas and hypopneas per hour compared to preflight. Obstructive apneas virtually disappeared in microgravity, suggesting that the removal of gravity prevents the collapse of upper airways during sleep. Arousals from sleep were reduced in microgravity compared to preflight, and virtually all of this reduction was as a result of a reduction in the number of arousals from apneas and hypopneas. We conclude that any sleep disruption in microgravity is not the result of respiratory factors.
West, John B. (California Univ. San Diego, CA, United States)
Elliott, Ann R. (California Univ. San Diego, CA, United States)
Prisk, G. Kim (California Univ. San Diego, CA, United States)
Paiva, Manuel (Free Univ. Brussels, Belgium)
September 7, 2013
January 1, 2003
Publication: The Neurolab Spacelab Mission: Neuroscience Research in Space: Results from the STS-90, Neurolab Spacelab Mission