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Travelling to High Altitudes Lead to Difficult Sleeping- Review

Background: High-altitude (HA) environments have adverse effects on the normal physiological functioning of body in the people who are accustomed to living at low altitudes. New arrivals to altitude commonly experience decline in quality sleep. Most people don’t sleep well at altitude. Sojourns commonly report vivid dreams, feelings of being suffocated and wake up in the morning feeling un-refreshed. These complaints are commonly associated with increased fragmentation of sleep by frequent brief arousals, which are in turn linked to periodic breathing.

Findings: Changes in sleep architecture include a shift toward lighter sleep stages, with noticeable decrements in slow wave sleep and with variable decreases in REM sleep. Increased hypoxic ventilatory responsiveness and loss of regularization of breathing during sleep contribute to the occurrence of periodicity.

Conclusions: One of the immediate effects of altitude exposure is to cause a general reduction in sleep quality. The purpose of this review was to consolidate the findings of the significant studies that examined the effects of HA on the sleep disturbances so far, so that further study in this regard can take new dimensions.


Swati Srivastava

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