The effect of sex and body weight on lung volumes during sleep.Sleep. 2019 10 09; 42(10)S
Low lung volumes are thought to contribute to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is worse in the supine versus lateral body position, men versus women, obese versus normal-weight (NW) individuals and REM versus NREM sleep. All of these conditions may be associated with low lung volumes. The aim was to measure FRC during wake, NREM, and REM in NW and overweight (OW) men and women while in the supine and lateral body positions.
Eighty-one healthy adults were instrumented for polysomnography, but with nasal pressure replaced with a sealed, non-vented mask connected to an N2 washout system. During wakefulness and sleep, repeated measurements of FRC were made in both supine and right lateral positions.
Two hundred eighty-five FRC measures were obtained during sleep in 29 NW (body mass index [BMI] = 22 ± 0.3 kg/m2) and 29 OW (BMI = 29 ± 0.7 kg/m2) individuals. During wakefulness, FRC differed between BMI groups and positions (supine: OW = 58 ± 3 and NW = 68 ± 3% predicted; lateral OW = 71 ± 3, NW = 81 ± 3% predicted). FRC fell from wake to NREM sleep in all participants and in both positions by a similar amount. As a result, during NREM sleep FRC was lower in OW than NW individuals (supine 46 ± 3 and 56 ± 3% predicted, respectively). FRC during REM was similar to NREM and no sex differences were observed in any position or sleep stage.
Reductions in FRC while supine and with increased body weight may contribute to worsened OSA in these conditions, but low lung volumes appear unlikely to explain the worsening of OSA in REM and in men versus women.