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Sleep and Oxygen Saturation under Flight Conditions in an Airplane Crew-Rest Compartment Mock-up

Elmenhorst, E.-M. and Rooney, D. and Pennig, S. and Wittkowski, M. and Vejvoda, M. and Wenzel, J. and Aeschbach, D. (2013) Sleep and Oxygen Saturation under Flight Conditions in an Airplane Crew-Rest Compartment Mock-up. In: Sleep, 36 (Abstra). Sleep Congress 2013, 01.-05. Juni 2013, Baltimore, USA.

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Introduction: With increasing number and duration of long-haul flights crews’ on-board recovery is a topic of upmost importance. Preliminary evidence suggests a link between hypobaric conditions, sleep changes and oxygen desaturation. The objective of this study was to examine a potential causal relation between hypoxia and sleep disturbance under flight-level conditions. Methods: We investigated 12 healthy volunteers (6 females, mean age 26.2 years ± 5.1 SD) in 4 experimental conditions: 1) 4-h sleep opportunity in private bedrooms of the sleep laboratory, normobaric, no noise, 2) 4-h sleep opportunity in a crew-rest compartment mock-up (CRC), normobaric (ground level), inflight noise, 3) 4-h sleep opportunity in a CRC, hypobaric (8000ft flight level), inflight noise, and 4) 4-h recumbent wakefulness in a CRC, hypobaric (8000ft flight level), inflight noise. The CRC was implemented in a pressure chamber. Polysomnograms and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) were recorded continuously and analyzed with mixed ANOVA, post-hoc t-tests. Results: In the flight simulation participants slept significantly less compared to ground level or to the sleep laboratory. Sleep onset latency (SOL) was increased (p=.0015) whereas sleep period time (SPT) (p=.0048) and total sleep time (TST) (p=.0010) were reduced. Waking after sleep onset tended to be increased (p=.0662). Sleeping at flight level reduced SpO2 in comparison to all other conditions (p<.0001). The mean SpO2 level during sleep inflight was 88% (± 0.5 SE) with a mean minimum of 80% (± 0.8 SE), whereas the mean SpO2 level during recumbent wakefulness inflight was 92% (± 0.3 SE). Participants spent 70% of SPT in a state of hypobaric hypoxia (<90% SpO2), 6% of SPT even below 85% SpO2. In contrast, during recumbent wakefulness under flight conditions participants spent only 13% of time below 90% SpO2 and 1% of time below 85% SpO2. Moreover, SpO2 during sleep was lower than during SOL (p<.001). Conclusion: Sleep under flight-level hypobaric conditions is impaired and – compared to wakefulness under the same conditions – associated with increased risk of oxygen desaturation. Sleeping on board of airplanes as a measure of recovery should therefore be regarded with caution.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/84519/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:Sleep and Oxygen Saturation under Flight Conditions in an Airplane Crew-Rest Compartment Mock-up
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Elmenhorst, E.-M.eva-maria.elmenhorst (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Rooney, D.daniel.rooney (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Pennig, S.sibylle.pennig (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Wittkowski, M.martin.wittkowski (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Vejvoda, M.martin.vejvoda (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Wenzel, J.juergen.wenzel (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Aeschbach, D.daniel.aeschbach (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title:Sleep
Refereed publication:No
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Keywords:sleep, recuperation, oxygen saturation, crew-rest compartment, hypobaric hypoxia
Event Title:Sleep Congress 2013
Event Location:Baltimore, USA
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:01.-05. Juni 2013
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Aeronautics
HGF - Program Themes:ATM and Operation (old)
DLR - Research area:Aeronautics
DLR - Program:L AO - Air Traffic Management and Operation
DLR - Research theme (Project):L - Human Factors and Safety in Aeronautics (old)
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Flight Physiology
Deposited By: Sender, Alina
Deposited On:15 Nov 2013 12:47
Last Modified:19 Apr 2016 11:36

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