PLoS ONE (2017-01-01)

Sleep continuity is positively correlated with sleep duration in laboratory nighttime sleep recordings.

  • Akifumi Kishi,
  • Hans P A Van Dongen,
  • Benjamin H Natelson,
  • Amy M Bender,
  • Luciana O Palombini,
  • Lia Bittencourt,
  • Sergio Tufik,
  • Indu Ayappa,
  • David M Rapoport

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 4
p. e0175504


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Sleep duration varies widely across individuals and appears to be trait-like. Differences in the stability of underlying sleep processes may underlie this phenomenon. To investigate underlying mechanisms, we examined the relationship between sleep duration and sleep continuity in baseline polysomnography (PSG) recordings from three independently collected datasets: 1) 134 healthy controls (ages 37 ± 13 years) from the São Paulo Epidemiologic Sleep Study, who spent one night in a sleep laboratory, 2) 21 obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients who were treated with continuous positive airway pressure for at least 2 months (45 ± 12 years, respiratory disturbance index <15), who spent one night in a sleep laboratory with previous experience of multiple PSG studies, and 3) 62 healthy controls (28 ± 6 years) who, as part of larger experiments, spent 2 consecutive nights in a sleep laboratory. For each dataset, we used total sleep time (TST) to separate subjects into those with shorter sleep (S-TST) and those with longer sleep (L-TST). In all three datasets, survival curves of continuous sleep segments showed greater sleep continuity in L-TST than in S-TST. Correlation analyses with TST as a continuous variable corroborated the results; and the results also held true after controlling for age. There were no significant differences in baseline waking performance and sleepiness between S-TST and L-TST. In conclusion, in both healthy controls and treated OSA patients, sleep continuity was positively correlated with sleep duration. These findings suggest that S-TST may differ from L-TST in processes underlying sleep continuity, shedding new light on mechanisms underlying individual differences in sleep duration.