Effect of temazepam on oxygen saturation and sleep quality at high altitude: randomised placebo controlled crossover trial
Poor sleep in people who have recently arrived at high altitude is common and may lead to daytime symptoms of drowsiness and reduced performance. Until recently, medical advice has been to avoid using sedatives at altitude, as they might provoke acute altitude sickness, accumulation of fluid on the brain or heart or cause a lack of oxygen to be supplied to the heart. In this week's BMJ Dubowitz reveals the results of a study of the effects of altitude on eleven people at the base camp of Mount Everest. The author found that 10mg of a short acting benzodiazepine (in this case the sedative 'temazepam') improved the quality of sleep and reduced the changes in the saturation levels of oxygen in the body during sleep, without altering the overall mean oxygen saturation.
Dr Gerald Dubowitz, Expedition Medical Officer, British Mount Everest Medical Expedition, The Pinfold, Hyssington, Montgomery, Powys, Wales email:HRA@aidpost.mos.com.np