Skip main navigation

Reflex Regulation of Arterial Pressure during Sleep in Man

A Quantitative Method of Assessing Baroreflex Sensitivity
Originally published Research. 1969;24:109–121

    The control of arterial pressure during sleep was studied in 13 untreated, unsedated subjects aged 20 to 46, including 7 with hypertension. Arterial pressure was measured directly. A transient rise of arterial pressure up to 30 mm Hg was produced by the sudden intravenous injection of 0.25 to 2 µg of angiotensin. Linear plots were obtained in 10 of 13 subjects when the systolic pressures of successive pulses during the pressure rise were plotted against the pulse intervals which began the next beat. The relationship was disturbed by movement or arousal, and was better when pulse intervals falling in inspiration were discarded.

    The slope of the line (milliseconds of cardiac slowing per millimeter rise in systolic pressure) in the awake subject ranged from 2 to 15.5 msec/mm Hg, and from 4.5 to 28.9 during sleep. Reflex sensitivity was highest in dreaming sleep. In 7 of 10 subjects, baroreflex sensitivity increased significantly during sleep; in 6, the prevailing arterial pressure was inversely correlated with the baroreflex sensitivity. The pressure appeared to be the dependent variable. It is concluded that the baroreceptor reflex are can be rapidly reset, particularly during sleep. The lower arterial pressures during sleep may be actively maintained in some subjects by increased baroreflex sensitivity.