People with insomnia and sleep apnea have higher risk of mortality, new study finds

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New research has found that individuals who self-report symptoms of both insomnia and sleep apnea are at increased risk of death, compared to those without the conditions.

The study, published in the journal, Sleep Epidemiology, was conducted by researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. Investigators looked at data from 6,877 participants with a mean age of 45 years old, that were drawn from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. From that data, 74 percent of people reported no conditions, three percent had insomnia alone, 20 percent had only obstructive sleep apnea, while 3.3 percent were reported as having comorbid insomnia and sleep apnea (COMISA). A STOP-Bang questionnaire was used to identify participants at high risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

Overall, the analysis found symptoms of COMISA were associated with a 56 percent increased risk of death from any cause compared to those without the condition, within the 11-year follow-up period of the study, after controlling for sociodemographic factors, behavioral factors, chronic conditions and other potential mediators and moderators, according to the study.

“While our study further highlights the risk of comorbid insomnia and sleep apnea, it directly addressed the study’s aim, finding that self-reported insomnia symptoms combined with the STOP-Bang questionnaire can be used to identify people with probable COMISA at risk of adverse health outcomes,” said Alexander Sweetman, PhD, the study’s lead author and research fellow at Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at Flinders University in a statement.