Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coexisting Conditions: Insomnia and Sleep Apnea

You might think that having obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) means that you don’t have insomnia. After all, OSA often causes excessive daytime sleepiness while insomnia is characterized by elevated alertness. But several studies indicate that the two disorders often coexist.

A study in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine examined 20 previous studies that compared the two conditions. Their results indicated that insomnia symptoms were reported in 39 to 58 percent of OSA patients.

Insomnia symptoms include difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Insomniacs often experience early awakenings or feel unrefreshed after sleeping.

Experts estimate that 30 percent of adults have insomnia symptoms. An estimated 10 percent of adults have chronic insomnia.

Just as OSA patients displayed signs of insomnia, many insomniacs exhibited signs of OSA. Between 29 and 69 percent of insomnia patients had an AHI of more than five. This score indicates OSA.

People who suffer from OSA and insomnia have some similar symptoms. Both conditions can lower work productivity and increase driving accidents. They also can raise one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

Both sleep disorders lowered patients’ quality of life. And people in each group felt tired and experienced mood problems.

Because insomnia and sleep apnea are two common sleep disorders, the researchers were unsurprised by the patient overlap.

The researchers suggest that ignoring one of the disorders may worsen the other disorder. So it is important to treat both conditions. Sleep disorders can be diagnosed at a sleep center.

In March, this blog reported on a study that found that men and women with OSA sometimes have different symptoms. The study showed that 17 percent of women complained of insomnia. In contrast, five percent of men complained of insomnia.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.