The Link Between Insomnia and Sleep Apnea

The Stevens Point Journal is reporting that there is a correlation between insomnia and sleep apnea. Those with chronic insomnia suffer daily with their inability to complete a full night’s sleep. This suffering extends to their daily routine, causing a number of symptoms that adversely affects quality of life.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia causes many problems for those who suffer with the condition. Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Reduced efficiency at work
  • Psychological disorders that affect mood

Startling Figures

According to the National Sleep Foundation, over 60 percent of women and nearly 55 percent of men suffer insomniac symptoms several times weekly. Over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids can help some to treat these problems. Unfortunately, most of these medications do not serve as an effective treatment for insomnia symptoms.

Good News

For those who are not successful with these treatments, an underlying condition may be responsible. This condition is known as obstructive sleep apnea. The good news is that for those who are diagnosed with OSA, the condition can be easily addressed and treated.

New research published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in September highlights a sample of 942 patients who underwent sleep studies drawn from a set of 1,210 insomnia patients. Among those who completed the study, over 90 percent suffered from OSA, which made their insomnia worse.

Important Findings

The importance of this study is that in many cases, insomnia has been viewed as a psychological condition. In cases where medication fails, it is now coming to light that OSA, a physiological condition, is a major contributing factor.

This can fundamentally change the way insomnia is treated in some cases. Those patients who suffer from insomnia tend to press for a quick fix through medication. Since patients are not aware that while they sleep their breathing is affected, they only report symptoms associated with lack of sleep.

Physicians prescribe drugs and often have problems knowing when the treatments fail. This results in delays in testing and treatment of sleep apnea.

Testing and Treatment

The up side is that modern technology provides us to screen and test accurately, right in the patient’s home. It is no longer necessary to spend difficult and uncomfortable nights at sleep clinics, undergoing studies with bulky and noisy equipment.

If a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea after testing, the condition can often be treated by application of oral appliances that open up the airways and allow for easier breathing. In extreme cases, CPAP and surgery can be applied to address the condition.

The results of this study indicate that patients with chronic insomnia should be immediately tested for sleep apnea. The sooner a patient is tested, the more likely they are to receive proper care and treatment of their condition.

A positive side result is fewer people taking medications they may not need. In a world where too many people take drugs for conditions that could be treated otherwise, this is certainly a bonus.

 

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