Evening Binge Alcohol Disrupts Cardiovagal Tone and Baroreflex Function During Polysomnographic Sleep

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STUDY OBJECTIVES: Binge alcohol consumption is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. The effects of evening binge alcohol consumption (i.e., 4-5 beverages within two hours) on the vagal components of HRV and cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (cvBRS) during sleep remain largely equivocal. The present study examined the effects of evening binge alcohol consumption on nocturnal cardiac vagal tone and baroreflex sensitivity during stage N2, slow wave (SWS), and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. We hypothesized that evening binge drinking would reduce HRV and cvBRS in each sleep stage. METHODS: Following a familiarization night within the laboratory, twenty-three participants were examined following a night of binge alcohol consumption and a fluid control (randomized, crossover design). A quality nocturnal beat-to-beat blood pressure signal was obtained in both conditions in 16 participants (7 men, 9 women; 25±1 years). RESULTS: Binge drinking reduced both the high frequency (HF) and time-domain components (i.e., pNN50 and RMSSD) of HRV in stage N2 sleep, SWS, and REM. In addition, cvBRS up-up (vagal activation) was reduced following binge alcohol consumption in stage N2 (21±3 vs. 15±3 ms/mmHg, P=0.035) and REM (15[11-28] vs. 11[9-18] ms/mmHg, P=0.009). Binge alcohol consumption reduced cvBRS down-down (vagal withdrawal) in stage N2 (23±2 vs. 14±2 ms/mmHg, P<0.001), SWS (20[14-30] vs. 14[9-17] ms/mmHg, P=0.022), and REM (14[11-24] vs. 10[7-15] ms/mmHg, P=0.006). CONCLUSIONS: Evening binge alcohol consumption disrupts cardiac vagal tone and baroreflex function during nearly all sleep stages. These findings provide mechanistic insight into the potential role of binge drinking and alcohol abuse on cardiovascular risk.

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