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Master Thesis

The effect of Zolpidem on cognitive function and postural control at 3800 m: a cross-over double blind randomized study

Abstract : Sleep is affected by high altitude, leading numerous alpinists to consume hypnotics in order to improve sleep efficiency and to recover properly for climbing the next day. While alpinists generally wake-up very early at altitude, no study has so far analyzed the potential residual adverse effects of zolpidem during nocturnal wakening at high altitude. The objective of our study was to evaluate if zolpidem administration at bedtime could induce significant cognitive and postural impairments at early wakening. In a randomized double-blind controlled cross-over study, 22 subjects were evaluated during 2 nights at low altitude and 2 nights at high altitude, after zolpidem (10 mg) or placebo intake. Polygraphic recordings were performed until 1:30 am. After waking-up, postural evaluations were conducted on a force platform. Then at 2:00 am, two cognitive tests were performed (Simon task and duration-production task) at rest and during exercise, with cerebral oxygenation monitoring by near infrared spectroscopy. Symptoms of acute mountain sickness, sleep quality and sleepiness were also assessed by questionnaires. Zolpidem increased reaction time in all conditions (mean with zolpidem 407±9 ms vs mean with placebo 380±11 ms; p<0.001) and error rate in incongruent trials (10.2±1.1% vs 7.8±0.8%; p<0.01) compared to placebo. A larger increase in cerebral oxygenation during cognitive tasks was observed at rest only. Zolpidem intake increased time perception variability compared to placebo (p<0.001). Zolpidem altered postural parameters such as the center of pressure area. Zolpidem did not affect the main polygraphic parameters but increased sleep quality. Zolpidem increased symptoms of acute mountain sickness. Acute zolpidem intake before sleep at high altitude alters cognitive performances and postural control during early wakening which may be deleterious for safety and physical capacities of climbers.
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Master Thesis
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Contributor : Jean-Hugues Morneau Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - 3:23:21 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 6, 2021 - 3:25:39 AM


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  • HAL Id : dumas-03087219, version 1


Guillaume Sechaud. The effect of Zolpidem on cognitive function and postural control at 3800 m: a cross-over double blind randomized study. Human health and pathology. 2017. ⟨dumas-03087219⟩



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