Background: In 2007 and 2012, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) updated their scoring criteria for nocturnal respiratory events. We hypothesised that this could have led to changes in the apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI) of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) overlap syndrome. Methods: In a retrospective study, polysomnographic (PSG) recordings of 34 patients with COPD/OSA overlap syndrome were independently analysed using the AASM criteria from 2007 (AASM2007) and 2012 (AASM2012). The primary outcome was the difference in AHI, the secondary outcomes were frequency of hypopnoeas, diagnosis of overlap syndrome and differences between the AASM 2007 recommended (AASM2007Rec) and altered (AASM2007Alt) classifications. Data are presented as mean (standard deviation) if normally distributed, and as median (interquartile range) if non-normally distributed. Results: The PSGs of 34 elderly [aged 67 (7.0) years] and predominantly male (m:f, 31:3) patients with COPD [FEV1%pred 48.4% (19.6%)] were analysed. The AHI using AASM2007Rec criteria was 5.9 (2.0, 15.1) events/hour vs. 20.4 (11.5, 28.0) events/hour using the 2012 criteria (P<0.001); with the AASM2007Alt criteria, the AHI was 15.0 (9.3, 26.3) events/hour (P<0.001). Using the 2012 classification, the number of scored hypopnoeas increased by +48% compared to the AASM2007Rec criteria (P<0.001), 92% of these events were associated with arousal. Although statistically non-significant, using the AASM2007Alt classification, 12% of our cohort would not have been diagnosed with COPD/OSA overlap syndrome (P=0.114), this was also the case for 47% of the cohort when the AASM2007Rec classification was used (P<0.01). Conclusions: The use of the AASM2012 scoring rules results in a significantly higher AHI compared to the AASM2007 criteria in patients with COPD/OSA overlap syndrome, mostly due to an increased number of arousal-associated hypopnoeas. These observations are important for the definition of the COPD/OSA overlap syndrome.