Maladaptive consequences of nocturnal periodic breathing at high altitude
Humans sleeping at high altitude (HA) commonly experience periodic breathing (PB), characterized by apneas alternating with periods of hyperventilation. PB is a consequence of the increased pulmonary ventilation at HA, which reduces arterial CO2 tension (PaCO2) towards the apneic threshold. During sleep, a small further PaCO2 reduction triggers an apnea, followed by an exaggerated hyperventilation that reverts PaCO2 below the apneic threshold and initiates the next apnea.
We aim to investigate whether PB contributes to maladaptive responses to HA that are currently incompletely understood, namely activation of the sympathetic nervous system, acute mountain sickness, and deterioration of sleep quality.