Insomnia in untreated sleep apnea patients compared to controls

J Sleep Res. 2012 Apr;21(2):131-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00972.x. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) often coexist, but the nature of their relationship is unclear. The aims of this study were to compare the prevalence of initial and middle insomnia between OSA patients and controls from the general population as well as to study the influence of insomnia on sleepiness and quality of life in OSA patients. Two groups were compared, untreated OSA patients (n = 824) and controls ≥ 40 years from the general population in Iceland (n = 762). All subjects answered the same questionnaires on health and sleep and OSA patients underwent a sleep study. Altogether, 53% of controls were males compared to 81% of OSA patients. Difficulties maintaining sleep (DMS) were more common among men and women with OSA compared to the general population (52 versus 31% and 62 versus 31%, respectively, P < 0.0001). Difficulties initiating sleep (DIS) and DIS + DMS were more common among women with OSA compared to women without OSA. OSA patients with DMS were sleepier than patients without DMS (Epworth Sleepiness Scale: 12.2 versus 10.9, P < 0.001), while both DMS and DIS were related to lower quality of life in OSA patients as measured by the Short Form 12 (physical score 39 versus 42 and mental score 36 versus 41, P < 0.001). DIS and DMS were not related to OSA severity. Insomnia is common among OSA patients and has a negative influence on quality of life and sleepiness in this patient group. It is relevant to screen for insomnia among OSA patients and treat both conditions when they co-occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iceland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Snoring / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires