Sleep fragmentation during rapid eye movement sleep and hypertension in obstructive sleep apnea

Rong Ren, Ye Zhang, Linghui Yang, Yuan Shi, Naima Covassin, Xiangdong Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Sleep fragmentation determined by repetitive arousals from sleep in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with hypertension. We aimed to quantify the independent association of arousals during rapid eye movement (REM)/non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep with prevalent hypertension. Methods: We included adults with 4h of total sleep time and at least 30 min of REM sleep obtained from overnight in-laboratory polysomnography. Logistic regression models were fitted to explore the association between arousals during REM/NREM sleep and prevalent hypertension. All models controlled for OSA metrics and arousals during NREM/REM sleep, either by statistical adjustment or by stratification. Results: The sample comprised of 11 643 patients, of which 10 055 were OSA patients. Fully adjusted models demonstrated significant dose-relationships between arousal index during REM sleep (AI-REM) and prevalent hypertension (P trend = 0.002). The higher relative odds of prevalent hypertension were most evident with AI-REM > 40events/h. In OSA patients with arousal index during NREM sleep (AI-NREM) <15events/h, every10-unit increase in the AI-REM was associated with 18% higher odds of hypertension (odds ratio, 1.18; 95% confidence interval, 1.11–1.27) in OSA. On the contrary, AI-NREM was not a significant predictor of hypertension in any of the models. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that arousals during REM sleep are associated with prevalent hypertension. This is clinically relevant because treatment of OSA is often limited to the first half of the sleep period leaving most of sleep fragmentation during REM sleep untreated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-315
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of hypertension
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • hypertension
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • rapid eye movement sleep
  • repetitive arousals during rapid eye movement/non-rapid eye movement sleep
  • sleep-disordered breathing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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