The Peninsula Sleep Laboratory in New South Wales has been involved in sleep research at high altitude levels since 1997. The Medical Director Dr. Keith Burgess and the Laboratory Manager Katie, will be returning to the Nepal Himalaya mountains in April and May of this year, to conduct further research into sleep at high altitude.
Part of an international expedition of over 20 members from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, they will be using a joint Italian and Nepali Research Station at 5,050 metres called “The Pyramid”. The Station was established in 1994 to study climatic change and earth movement, but has been used by numerous investigators since for physiology experiments as well.
The international expedition will study a number of physiological questions related to high altitude exposure and physiological adaptation, including the development of central sleep apnoea, which is an almost universal occurrence at that altitude. Arterial blood gas changes, ventilatory responses, cerebral blood flow changes and the physiology of sleep will be measured. During earlier experiments in 2008, the same investigators discovered novel findings associated with acclimatisation. This time they will be trialling potential new interventions in the treatment of central sleep apnoea, that might have useful ramifications at sea level.
To study sleep, the team will be using four Compumedics Somté PSG battery powered polysomnography systems – these same systems worked extremely well during the study conducted in 2008. The set up this year will be slightly different as the team need to be able to record to SD cards, but monitor live acquisition on two laptops overnight. The study will be done with the aim of watching this live to see effects present whilst they administer drugs at different points during the night.
The investigating team are grateful to Compumedics for their support of the expedition, through the provision of the Somté PSG systems.alia