It is not uncommon in a sleep laboratory to encounter individuals who have complaints of disturbed sleep, but who do not meet the criteria for a sleep disorder when evaluated by polysomnography.
Gastroesophageal reflux is known to occur in many individuals without their awareness.
It is possible that some of these individuals might be suffering from reflux that is disturbing their sleep.
Dr William Orr and colleagues from Sweden recruited 81 individuals with complaints of disturbed or unrefreshing sleep, but no complaints of heartburn.
|In the disturbed-sleep group, 27% of subjects had a reflux event|
|Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology|
A comparison group of 39 individuals with neither sleep nor heartburn complaints was also studied.
Both groups were studied on 2 separate occasions by simultaneous polysomnography, and pH monitoring to detect the presence of nighttime gastroesophageal reflux and to determine sleep outcomes.
The researchers found that in the disturbed-sleep group, 27% of subjects had a reflux event compared with 33% in the normals.
In the subjects who experienced reflux, the disturbed-sleep group had a significantly greater percentage of acid exposure time compared with the normals.
Participants in the disturbed-sleep group also had a longer sleep-onset latency, and less total sleep time compared with the normal sleepers.
Dr Orr’s team concluded, “Among individuals with complaints of disturbed sleep, there was a subset of individuals who had significant gastroesophageal reflux.”
“We speculate that sleep-related gastroesophageal reflux may play a role in producing disturbed sleep in individuals without heartburn and otherwise unexplained sleep disturbance.”