Sleep is associated with stages of relative cortical quiescence, enabling evaluation of swallowing under periods of reduced consciousness and, hence, absent volition. The aim of this study was to measure and characterize changes in the characteristics of pharyngeal swallows during sleep and wake using high-resolution manometry (HRM). Pharyngeal swallows were recorded with a ManoScan™ HRM in wake-upright, wake-supine, and sleep conditions in 20 healthy participants (mean 27 years; range 21–52). Velopharyngeal and hypopharyngeal segments were analysed separately. Contractile integral, mean peak pressure, inverse velocity of superior-to-inferior pharyngeal pressure, and time to first maximum pressure were analysed with custom-designed software. The supine-wake condition was compared to both upright-wake and sleep conditions using linear mixed effects models. No significant differences were found between supine-wake and upright-wake conditions on any measures. The mean peak pharyngeal pressure was lower during sleep than during the supine-wake condition for both the velopharynx (− 60 mmHg, standard error [SE] = 11, p < 0.001) and hypopharynx (− 59 mmHg, SE = 9, p = 0.001), as was the pharyngeal inverse velocity (− 12 ms/cm, SE = 4, p = 0.012) for the hypopharyngeal segment and the pharyngeal contractile integral (− 32 mmHg s cm, SE = 6, p < 0.001). No significant differences were found in time to the first pharyngeal maximum pressure. This study used HRM to characterize and compare pharyngeal pressures during swallowing in both wake and sleep conditions. No differences were found between upright and supine awake conditions, a finding important to pharyngeal manometric measures made during supine positioning, such as in fMRI. Higher pressures and longer time-related measures of volitional pharyngeal swallowing when awake indicate that cortical input plays an important role in modulation of pharyngeal swallowing.
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The authors wish to thank the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation for its financial support for this project.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.
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