Prevalence of sleepiness and associations with quality of life in patients with sleep apnea in an online cohort

J Clin Sleep Med. 2021 Dec 1;17(12):2363-2372. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.9436.


Study objectives: Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is a treatment target for many patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). We aimed to understand the prevalence, risk factors, and quality of life associated with EDS in a nonclinical, "real world" sample of patients with OSA.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey of patients with OSA participating in an online peer support community, assessing demographics, comorbidities, treatment, and quality of life. Differences in those with and without EDS (Epworth Sleepiness Scale > and ≤ 10) were assessed.

Results: The sample (n = 422) was 54.2% male, 65.9% were ≥ 55 years, and 43.3% reported sleeping ≤ 6 hours/night. EDS was identified among 31.0% of respondents and 51.7% reported sleepiness as a precipitating factor for seeking initial OSA treatment. EDS was more prevalent in individuals reporting asthma, insomnia symptoms, positive airway pressure (PAP) use less than 6 hours/night on ≥ 5 nights/week, or sleep duration < 6 hours/night. After adjusting for demographics and comorbidities, patients with EDS reported poorer mental and physical health and well-being, lower disease-specific functional status, more activity and work impairment, and more driving impairment (P values < .05). In the subsample (n = 265) with high PAP adherence, 26.0% reported EDS, and similar associations between EDS and outcomes were observed.

Conclusions: These "real world" data suggest that patients seeking online OSA support experience a high prevalence of EDS, which was associated with poorer quality of life and worse functional status. Associations persisted among respondents with high self-reported PAP-therapy adherence, potentially driving these individuals to seek online support for sleepiness-related symptoms.

Citation: Wanberg LJ, Rottapel RE, Reid ML, et al. Prevalence of sleepiness and associations with quality of life in patients with sleep apnea in an online cohort. J Clin Sleep Med. 2021;17(12):2363-2372.

Keywords: excessive daytime sleepiness; online; quality of life; sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / epidemiology
  • Sleepiness