Chapter 12. Sleep Science and Polysomnography

Teofilo Lee-Chiong Jr., MD, FCCP
DOI: 10.1378/pulm.26.12
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  • Understand the physiologic changes that occur during sleep.

  • Identify the different sleep stages.

  • Learn how to interpret a polysomnogram.


Sleep is a complex reversible state characterized by behavioral quiescence and diminished responsiveness to external stimuli. Different neural systems (and neurotransmitters) generate wakefulness, nonrapid eye movement, and rapid eye movement sleep. Two basic intrinsic components interact to regulate the timing and consolidation of sleep and wake, namely sleep homeostasis and circadian rhythms. Vulnerability to sleep deprivation varies within individuals across time and between individuals. Consequences of total sleep deprivation appear to differ from those of chronic partial sleep restriction. Polysomnography involves the continuous and simultaneous recording of several physiologic variables during sleep. In addition to polysomnography, other tests, including the Epworth sleepiness scale, multiple sleep latency test, and maintenance of wakefulness test, are commonly used in the evaluation of persons with sleep-related complaints.


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