A Combo Of These Sleep Disorders Can Be Fatal: Study

A combination of insomnia and sleep apnea, which are both sleep disorders, can be fatal, a study has revealed

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahPublished at: Dec 20, 2021Updated at: Dec 20, 2021
A Combo Of These Sleep Disorders Can Be Fatal: Study

With increasing stress and anxiety levels in recent times, sleeping disorders have also not remained that uncommon. 6 to 8 hours of continuous, deep sleep is crucial for the optimal functioning of any human being. A sleeping disorder is a reflection of a person’s mental health and further aggravates his/her physical and mental health. But, sleep disorders, as of now, have an extremely rare connection with fatality. But what about a combination of such disorders? Can it be deadly? The answer is yes if we go as per a recent study.

According to a study undertaken by researchers at Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute: Sleep Health, a combination of insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea can turn out to be fatal for a person. This highlights the need to be tested for one disease if already diagnosed for the other, and also hints at the treatment options that can be beneficial. The findings are published in the European Respiratory Journal. Before we delve into the study findings, let us first look at the two sleeping disorders in some detail.

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder

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A sleep disorder, insomnia is when you have trouble falling or staying asleep. It can be both acute and chronic: acute that lasts from one day to a few weeks, and chronic, when you are unable to sleep three nights a week for three months straight, as per a leading health website.

Also read: Does Sleeping Over 6.5 Hours Per Day Cause Cognitive Decline? Study Finds Out

Symptoms Of Insomnia:

While suffering from insomnia, you will experience the following symptoms:

  • The primary symptom is that you have trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • This can lead to sleepiness during the day.
  • You will also feel tired and grumpy.
  • It can naturally hamper your concentration.

Causes Of Insomnia

Several causes can lead to insomnia, such as:

  • Stress, or other mental health issues such as depression.
  • Caffeine, use of tobacco, alcohol, etc.
  • Any pain or discomfort
  • Certain medications
  • Other sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea
  • PMS and menopause can also sometimes cause insomnia

Insomnia is generally treated with medication, therapy, and having proper sleep hygiene.

Also read: Not Just Typical 8 Hours Sleep, Here Are 7 Kinds Of Rest Every Person Needs

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

Just like insomnia, sleep apnea is also a sleeping disorder in which breathing continuously stops and starts while you are asleep. 

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

A person suffering from sleep apnea experiences the following symptoms:

  • You might have witnessed some people snore loudly while sleeping. It’s a sign of sleep apnea.
  • You might gasp for air while asleep.
  • Daytime sleepiness is another sign
  • You might also have trouble staying asleep, which is insomnia
  • As you do not get a sound sleep, it can lead to tiredness and affect your concentration.

About The Insomnia-Sleep Apnea Study

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the two sleeping disorders, let us delve into the study.

  • The researchers at Flinders University analysed a US dataset of over 5,000 people who suffered from comorbid insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea (COMISA).
  • The general age of participants was around 60, and about 52% of them were females.
  • The study was undertaken over 15 years.
  • As many as 1,210 participants died during the study.

Study Findings

As per the research, those suffering from both of these sleeping disorders were at a greater chance of dying than those who didn’t suffer from either of these.

  • Those with COMISA were twice as likely to suffer from high blood pressure as compared to those who didn’t.
  • Patients suffering from both insomnia and sleep apnea were at a 70% higher risk of suffering from heart disease as compared to those suffering from neither of the two diseases.
  • COMISA patients were also at 47% increased risk of dying from any reason.

What Did The Researchers Say

Dr Bastien Lechat, a researcher at Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, was the lead researcher of this study. He said the following about the study findings:

  • Since people suffering from both insomnia and sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from other serious health issues, those diagnosed for one must be diagnosed for the other condition too.
  • Further research is needed to find out the link between COMISA and higher mortality.
  • At the same time, research is also needed to ensure the treatments are effective.

So as you saw, sleep disorders can not just impact your mental and physical health, a combination of these can be a deadly cocktail. Hence, if you experience any symptoms, get yourself checked. And, if you get screened for one, it would be better if you get yourself screened for the other two. This might help you by preventing the other diseases and health conditions these sleep disorders can lead to. 

Photo Credit: Freepik