The relationships between insomnia, sleep apnoea and depression: findings from the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2008

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;49(2):156-70. doi: 10.1177/0004867414546700. Epub 2014 Aug 15.


Objective: To determine the association between insomnia, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), and comorbid insomnia-OSA and depression, while controlling for relevant lifestyle and health factors, among a large population-based sample of US adults.

Method: We examined a sample of 11,329 adults (≥18 years) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during the years 2005-2008. Insomnia was classified via a combination of self-reported positive physician diagnosis and high-frequency 'trouble falling asleep', 'waking during the night', 'waking too early', and 'feeling unrested during the day'. OSA was classified as a combination of a positive response to a physician-diagnosed condition, in addition to a high frequency of self-reported nocturnal 'snoring', 'snorting/stopping breathing' and 'feeling overly sleepy during the day'. Comorbid insomnia-OSA was further assessed by combining a positive response to either insomnia (all), or sleep apnoea (all), as classified above. Depressive symptomology was assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), with scores of >9 used to indicate depression. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for sleep disorders and depression were attained from logistic regression modelling adjusted for sex, age, poverty level, smoking status and body mass index (BMI).

Results: Those who reported insomnia, OSA or comorbid insomnia-OSA symptoms reported higher rates of depression (33.6%, 22.2%, 27.1%, respectively), and consistently reported poorer physical health outcomes than those who did not report sleep disorders. After adjusting for sex, age, poverty level, smoking status and BMI (kg/m(2)), insomnia (OR 6.57, 95% CI 3.89-11.11), OSA (OR 5.14, 95% CI 3.14-8.41) and comorbid insomnia-OSA (OR 6.67, 95% CI 4.44-10.00) were associated with an increased likelihood of reporting depression.

Conclusions: Insomnia, OSA and comorbid insomnia-OSA are associated with significant depressive symptomology among this large population-based sample of adults.

Keywords: Comorbidity; National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES); depression; epidemiology; insomnia; obstructive sleep apnoea; population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult