It is not uncommon to have more than one sleep disorder, and insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are two of the most diagnosed. Both are treatable at The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona, where you meet with a sleep expert capable of providing a diagnosis at your initial consultation. There are risks, including an increased chance of mortality for many sleep disorders. However, when you combine insomnia and OSA, a recent study showed that there is an even higher risk of death. The researchers published their findings via a Flinders University analysis, which highlights how critical risk factors and noticing symptoms are to your well-being.

The authors hope their report helps to speed up assessments for those who cannot undergo an overnight sleep study (i.e. those in remote areas). However, this information can be helpful for anyone. In many cases, especially with OSA, patients are not aware of the more obvious symptoms like snoring or gasping while asleep. Unless they have a bed partner who tells them about this, they must often rely on less obvious signs of OSA such as daytime fatigue.

Common Problems with Fatal Outcomes

It is estimated that both insomnia and OSA occur in 10 – 30 percent of the population, often as co-morbidities. When someone has both insomnia and OSA, it is called co-morbid insomnia and sleep apnea (COMISA). About half of people with OSA also struggle with “significant insomnia” according to the researchers, while up to 40 percent of people with chronic insomnia also have OSA. Independently, they are each linked to a lower quality of life and a higher tendency to use healthcare services (for side effects of these disorders). However, those with COMISA have even worse sleep, poorer mental health, more sluggish daytime function, lower productivity, and higher rates of cardiovascular disease compared to those who “just” have OSA or insomnia.

The authors note that in previous studies, overnight sleep studies (polysomnography) was almost always used to diagnose OSA. However, access to such a study isn’t available for everyone. This drove them to examine how self-reported COMISA symptoms might be linked to “all-cause mortality.” The study was published in Sleep Epidemiology and included data from almost 7,000 subjects.

What the Numbers Show

Approximately 74 percent of people reported no conditions while 20 percent had only OSA, 3 percent had only insomnia, and 3.3 percent reported to have COMISA. The research shows that COMISA was linked to a 56 percent increased risk of death from anything compared to those without these sleep disorders or who had “just” one or the other. An 11-year follow-up study was also part of this research to assess chronic conditions and other possible influences.

Ultimately, the researchers recommend patients to continue using the STOP-Bang questionnaire for assessment, particularly if there is reason to suspect COMISA. Of course, ideally everyone will be able to see a sleep expert for a proper diagnosis. Referrals are not necessary at The Insomnia and Sleep Institute, making it easy to ensure sleep care is part of your life.

What the Experts Say

The authors point to the “limited availability and long wait times” to access a sleep study, and while that is true at many clinics that is not always the case. It should also be noted that this study happened in Australia, where there are different options for accessing sleep health care. “It is important that at some point in a patient’s management they do take part in an overnight sleep study to confirm their diagnosis and determine best treatment options,” says the researchers. There are clear limits when it comes to self-reporting symptoms.

If you think you have a sleep disorder or simply want to make sure you are as holistically healthy as possible, make sleep care part of your general care routine. Contact The Insomnia and Sleep Institute today to schedule a consultation. Call the office during business hours or, for the quickest response, simply complete the online contact form now.