Supplemental oxygen and sleep at altitude

Jeremy S. Windsor, George W Rodway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect supplemental oxygen has on the respiratory and cardiovascular system of a mountaineer during sleep at high altitude by using a novel ambulatory, multisensor, continuous monitoring device. Supplemental oxygen was administered to a healthy subject via a nasal demand system (0, 16.7, 33.3, or 50 mL/sec per pulse dose delivered over 1 sec) during the first three nights of sleep at 4900 and 5700 m. Increases in pulse dose resulted in a consistent rise in SaO2 and a fall in minute ventilation (p < 0.05). The 50-mL pulse dose resulted in the greatest changes, with an increase in SaO2 from 68.5% to 81% (p < 0.05) and a fall in minute ventilation from 13.1 to 10.9 L/min (p < 0.05) being noted. Changes in SaO2 and minute ventilation also coincided with a fall in apnea/hypopnea index (AHI). At 4900 m the AHI fell from 12.5-52.3 (breathing air) to 0-7.5 (50-mL oxygen pulse), whereas at 5700 m a decrease from 49.1-80.4 to 3.5-10.0 was observed. No changes in respiratory rate or heart rate were identified when different pulse doses were compared (p < 0.05). The multisensor monitoring device proved to be a highly effective system, demonstrating marked improvements in SaO2, tidal volume, and AHI in our participant when supplemental oxygen was administered via a nasal demand system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-311
Number of pages5
JournalHigh Altitude Medicine and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Mountaineering
  • Nasal demand breathing system
  • Periodic breathing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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