Evidence is rapidly accumulating that multifactorial nocturnal monitoring, through the coupling of wearable devices and deep learning, may be disruptive for early diagnosis and assessment of sleep disorders. In this work, optical, differential air-pressure and acceleration signals, acquired by a chest-worn sensor, are elaborated into five somnographic-like signals, which are then used to feed a deep network. This addresses a three-fold classification problem to predict the overall signal quality (normal, corrupted), three breathing-related patterns (normal, apnea, irregular) and three sleep-related patterns (normal, snoring, noise). In order to promote explainability, the developed architecture generates additional information in the form of qualitative (saliency maps) and quantitative (confidence indices) data, which helps to improve the interpretation of the predictions. Twenty healthy subjects enrolled in this study were monitored overnight for approximately ten hours during sleep. Somnographic-like signals were manually labeled according to the three class sets to build the training dataset. Both record- and subject-wise analyses were performed to evaluate the prediction performance and the coherence of the results. The network was accurate (0.96) in distinguishing normal from corrupted signals. Breathing patterns were predicted with higher accuracy (0.93) than sleep patterns (0.76). The prediction of irregular breathing was less accurate (0.88) than that of apnea (0.97). In the sleep pattern set, the distinction between snoring (0.73) and noise events (0.61) was less effective. The confidence index associated with the prediction allowed us to elucidate ambiguous predictions better. The saliency map analysis provided useful insights to relate predictions to the input signal content. While preliminary, this work supported the recent perspective on the use of deep learning to detect particular sleep events in multiple somnographic signals, thus representing a step towards bringing the use of AI-based tools for sleep disorder detection incrementally closer to clinical translation.
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