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Volume 10 No. 02
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Polysomnographic Investigation of Sleep and Respiratory Parameters in Women with Temporomandibular Pain Disorders

Boris Dubrovsky, Ph.D.1,5; Karen G. Raphael, Ph.D.1; Gilles J. Lavigne, D.M.D., Ph.D.2; Malvin N. Janal, Ph.D.3; David A. Sirois, D.M.D., Ph.D.1; Pia E. Wigren, Ph.D.1,6; Lena V. Nemelivsky, M.D.1,7; Jack J. Klausner, D.D.S.1; Ana C. Krieger, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.S.M.4
1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology and Medicine, NYU College of Dentistry, New York, NY; 2Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada; 3Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, NYU College of Dentistry, New York, NY; 4Departments of Medicine, Neurology and Genetic Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, New York, NY; 5Center for Sleep Disorders Medicine and Research, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, NY; 6Private practice, Stockholm, Sweden; 7Cancer Trials Office, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY

Study Objectives:

Temporomandibular pain disorders (TMD) and myofascial pain were linked to increased prevalence of insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) on clinical grounds. However, the literature lacks an accurate polysomnographic (PSG) characterization of sleep abnormalities associated with TMD, given that prior studies included small or uncontrolled samples of TMD patients. The present investigation aims to objectively evaluate measures of sleep and respiratory disturbance in a large representative sample of TMD cases in comparison with matched controls.


Sleep, respiration, and limb movements were measured using a 2-night attended PSG protocol in 170 women—124 TMD cases with myofascial pain and 46 demographically matched controls. The second night data were compared between the groups using ANCOVAs. In TMD cases, the relationship between pain ratings and sleep parameters was analyzed using multiple regressions.


In comparison to healthy controls, TMD cased evidenced a significant increase in stage N1 sleep (12.2% ± 7.6% vs. 9.2% ± 5.0%, p = 0.03), which was only mild relative to normative values. TMD cases also demonstrated mild but significant elevations in arousals associated with all types of respiratory events (6.0/h ± 6.1 vs. 3.5/h ± 3.3 p = 0.02) and in respiratory effort related arousals (RERAs, 4.3/h ± 4.3 vs. 2.6/h ± 2.7, p = 0.02). Myofascial pain predicted a lower sleep efficiency (p = 0.01), more frequent awakenings (p = 0.04), and higher RERA index (p = 0.04) among TMD cases.


Myofascial pain in TMD is associated with mild elevation in sleep fragmentation and increased frequency of RERA events. Further research is required to evaluate the clinical significance of these findings.


Dubrovsky B; Raphael KG; Lavigne GJ; Janal MN; Sirois DA; Wigren PE; Nemelivsky LV; Klausner JJ; Krieger AC. Polysomnographic investigation of sleep and respiratory parameters in women with temporomandibular pain disorders. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(2):195-201.

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