Sleep apnea

How is sleep apnea relevant to people with PTSD?

People with mental disorders may show increased rates of co-occurring conditions such as sleep apnea. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is seen in around 5-10% of the general population and occurs when the muscles of the upper airway relax in such a way that they block the airway during sleep. As a result, OSA is associated with daytime sleepiness, cognitive dysfunction, and the development of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and abnormalities in glucose metabolism. OSA also has adverse effects on quality of life and can lead to anxiety and depression symptoms.

What is the evidence for sleep apnea in people with PTSD?

Moderate quality evidence finds around half of people with PTSD have obstructive sleep apnea. Rates are highest in veterans, in older people, and in people diagnosed using the apnea-hypopnea index with a cut-off of five rather than ten events per hour of sleep.

A common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure, and moderate quality evidence found large improvements in PTSD symptoms and reduced nightmares after treatment.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 5:21 am, 3rd August 2021
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