Development of cardiopulmonary integration and the role of arousability from sleep

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 1997 Nov;3(6):440-4. doi: 10.1097/00063198-199711000-00010.


The recent literature on cardiopulmonary integration in infants is surveyed here, focusing on arousals from sleep. Recent studies reported that the ontogenicity of cardiopulmonary integration cannot be evaluated independently from that of sleep-wake cycles. The issue is of importance for researchers and clinicians evaluating cardiorespiratory characteristics in infants. It also has significant implications in the understanding of clinical conditions, such as parasomnias, obstructive sleep apneas, or some cases of sudden infant death syndrome. The propensity to arouse can be evaluated by exposing the sleeper to awakening challenges. Arousal thresholds are determined by measuring the intensity of the stimulus needed to induce arousals. However, these studies are complicated by factors such as the scoring of the arousal responses. Another difficulty lies in the choice and modality of the arousal stimulus. Noise, gases, light, and nociceptive, mechanical, chemical, or temperature stimuli have all been used to induce arousals. Confounding factors modify the sleeper's responses to a given stimulus. Prenatal drug, alcohol, or cigarette use and the infant's age or, previous sleep deprivation also modify thresholds. Other confounding factors include time of the night, sleep stages, the sleeper's body position, and sleeping conditions. Arousal can also occur spontaneously because of endogenous stimuli. The literature surveyed here also covers such unresolved issues as the clinical significance of aborted arousals, or the mechanisms responsible for the arousal reactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / etiology*