Poor Autonomic Nervous System Functioning During Sleep in Recently Detoxified Alcohol-Dependent Men and Women
Article first published online: 27 FEB 2014
Copyright © 2014 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 38, Issue 5, pages 1373–1380, May 2014
How to Cite
de Zambotti, M., Baker, F. C., Sugarbaker, D. S., Nicholas, C. L., Trinder, J. and Colrain, I. M. (2014), Poor Autonomic Nervous System Functioning During Sleep in Recently Detoxified Alcohol-Dependent Men and Women. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38: 1373–1380. doi: 10.1111/acer.12384
- Issue published online: 22 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 27 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Received: 25 SEP 2013
- National Institutes of Health. Grant Number: AA020565
- Autonomic Nervous System;
- Heart Rate Variability;
Alcoholism is considered an important risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) disease. Autonomic nervous system (ANS) function is a major indicator of CV health. Sleep is a suitable model to investigate ANS activity free from wake-related confounders. We investigated nighttime ANS functioning, and the relation between ANS activity and severity of alcohol dependence in chronic alcoholism.
Fourteen recently abstaining alcoholics (age: 42.0 ± 9.0 years, 7 women) and 16 age- and sex-matched controls (age: 45.2 ± 9.1 years, 8 women) underwent a night of standard clinical polysomnography, including electrocardiographic recording. Time- and frequency-domain spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) was performed across hours of the night and during artifact-free epochs of stable sleep and wakefulness (presleep wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement [REM], and non-REM sleep).
Alcoholics had a poorer subjective and objective sleep quality compared to controls. Across the night, alcoholic men and women had elevated heart rate, reduced total HRV, that is, lower standard deviation of normal-to-normal interbeat intervals, and reduced high frequency (HF) activity (assessed by the HF power and by the square root of the mean squared of successive heart period differences). This ANS pattern was most apparent at the beginning of the night. None of the ANS measures was associated with lifetime alcohol consumption or duration of alcohol dependence.
Our results show that ANS functioning is disrupted during the night, even in undisturbed sleep periods, indicating poor CV functioning in recently detoxified alcohol-dependent men and women.