Sleep Med Psychophysiol.  2008 Dec;15(2):77-81.

Clinical and Polysomnographic Characteristics of REM Sleep-Dependent Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University Gil Hospital, Incheon, Korea.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Seoul Metropolitan Eunpyong Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Sleep Laboratory, Seoul Metropolitan Eunpyong Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


INTRODUCTION: REM sleep which shows characteristic muscle atonia and increased resistance of upper respiratory track is known to be vulnerable to sleep apnea. Previous studies reported that REM sleep-dependent (or related) obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (REM-dependent OSA) could be one of sleep disordered breathing. The present study aimed to investigate clinical findings and polysomnographic variables of REM-dependent OSA.
Fifty-six patients diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea by overnight polysomnography (52. We compared clinical and polysomnographic findings between REM-dependent OSA and No REM-dependent OSA patients.
Among 56 patients, 37.5% (n=21, average age of 52.3+/-19.7 years, 14 males) met the REM-dependent OSA criteria. There were no significant differences in age, sex and body mass index between two groups. After controlling for age, sex, body mass index and periodic leg movements index, REM-dependent OSA patients showed significantly lower AHI, lower number of oxygen desaturation events and higher stage 2 sleep proportion compared to No REM-dependent OSA patients (p=0.010, p=0.006, p=0.031, respectively). After controlling for age, sex, body mass index and periodic legs movements index, AHI-REM was positively correlated with the number of oxygen desaturation events in REM-dependent OSA group (p=0.002).
Current results suggested that 37.5% of patients with mild to moderate severity of obstructive sleep apnea could be classified into REM-dependent OSA. REM-dependent OSA was more common in mild severity of OSA, equally prevalent in both sexes and accompanied with sleep architecture changes, i.e. increased proportion of stage 2. In addition, apneic events during REM sleep in REM-dependent OSA were related to oxygen desaturation.


Obstructive sleep apnea; REM sleep
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