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Sleep quality changes in insomniacs and non-insomniacs after acute altitude exposure and its relationship with acute mountain sickness

Authors Tang X, Zhang J, Gao X, Li Q, Li J, Yu J, Qin J, Huang L

Received 4 May 2014

Accepted for publication 2 July 2014

Published 31 July 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1423—1432


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Xu-gang Tang,1 Ji-hang Zhang,1 Xu-bin Gao,1 Qian-ning Li,2 Jia-bei Li,1 Jie Yu1 Jun Qin,1 Lan Huang1

Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, 2Department of Neurology, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, People’s Republic of China

Objective: We aimed to observe the changes in subjective sleep quality among insomniacs and non-insomniacs after acute ascending to 3,700 m and its possible relationship with acute mountain sickness (AMS). 
Methods: A total of 600 adult men were recruited. Subjects’ subjective sleep quality was evaluated by the Athens Insomnia Scale. AMS was assessed using the Lake Louise scoring system. Arterial oxygen saturation was measured.
Results: Despite insomnia resolution in only a few subjects, the prevalence of insomnia among insomniacs remained stable at 90% after rapid ascent to 3,700 m. However, among non-insomniacs, the prevalence of insomnia sharply increased to 32.13% in the first day of altitude exposure and progressively reduced to 4.26% by the 60th day of altitude stay. Moreover, the prevalences of insomnia symptoms decreased more markedly from day 1 to day 60 at 3,700 m among non-insomniacs than among insomniacs. At 3,700 m, the prevalence of AMS among insomniacs was 79.01%, 60.49%, and 32.10% on the first, third, and seventh days, respectively, which was significantly higher than that among non-insomniacs. Multivariate regression revealed that elevated Athens Insomnia Scale scores are an independent risk factor for AMS (adjusted odds ratio 1.388, 95% confidence interval: 1.314–1.464, P<0.001), whereas high arterial oxygen saturation and long duration of altitude exposure are protective factors against AMS.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that the effect of high-altitude exposure on subjective sleep quality is more marked, but disappears more quickly, among non-insomniacs than among insomniacs, whereas AMS is especially common among insomniacs. Moreover, poor subjective sleep quality is a risk factor for AMS.

Keywords: Athens Insomnia Scale, arterial oxygen saturation, rapid ascent, sleep

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