Study objective: To investigate differences between visual sleep scoring according to the classification developed by Rechtschaffen and Kales (R&K, 1968) and scoring based on the new guidelines of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM, 2007).
Design: All-night polysomnographic recordings were scored visually according to the R&K and AASM rules by experienced sleep scorers. Descriptive data analysis was used to compare the resulting sleep parameters.
Participants: Healthy subjects and patients (38 females and 34 males) aged between 21 and 86 years.
Measurement and results: While sleep latency and REM latency, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency were not affected by the classification standard, the time (in minutes and in percent of total sleep time) spent in sleep stage 1 (S1/N1), stage 2 (S2/N2) and slow wave sleep (S3+S4/N3) differed significantly between the R&K and the AASM classification. While light and deep sleep increased (S1 vs. N1 [+10.6 min, (+2.8%)]: P<0.01; S3+S4 vs. N3 [+9.1 min (+2.4%)]: P<0.01), stage 2 sleep decreased significantly according to AASM rules (S2 vs. N2 [-20.5 min, (-4.9%)]: P<0.01). Moreover, wake after sleep onset was significantly prolonged by approximately 4 minutes (P<0.01) according to the AASM standard. Interestingly, the effects on stage REM were age-dependent (intercept at 20 years: -7.5 min; slope: 1.6 min for 10-year age increase). No effects of sex and diagnosis were observed.
Conclusion: The study shows significant and age-dependent differences between sleep parameters derived from conventional visual sleep scorings on the basis of R&K rules and those based on the new AASM rules. Thus, new normative data have to be established for the AASM standard.