INTRODUCTION: Voluntary muscle activity, including swallowing, decreases during the night. The association between nocturnal awakenings and swallowing activity is under-researched with limited information on the frequency of swallows during awake and asleep periods.
AIM: The aim of this study was to assess nocturnal swallowing activity and identify a cut-off predicting awake and asleep periods.
METHODS: Patients undergoing impedance-pH monitoring as part of GERD work-up were asked to wear a wrist activity detecting device (Actigraph(®)) at night. Swallowing activity was quantified by analysing impedance changes in the proximal esophagus. Awake and asleep periods were determined using a validated scoring system (Sadeh algorithm). Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analyses were performed to determine sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of swallowing frequency to identify awake and asleep periods.
RESULTS: Data from 76 patients (28 male, 48 female; mean age 56 ± 15 years) were included in the analysis. The ROC analysis found that 0.33 sw/min (i.e. one swallow every 3 min) had the optimal sensitivity (78 %) and specificity (76 %) to differentiate awake from asleep periods. A swallowing frequency of 0.25 sw/min (i.e. one swallow every 4 min) was 93 % sensitive and 57 % specific to identify awake periods. A swallowing frequency of 1 sw/min was 20 % sensitive but 96 % specific in identifying awake periods. Impedance-pH monitoring detects differences in swallowing activity during awake and asleep periods. Swallowing frequency noticed during ambulatory impedance-pH monitoring can predict the state of consciousness during nocturnal periods.