Monday, July 9, 2012

Treating dream sleep-related obstructive sleep apnea

In last month's edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine is an article by Dr. Su and others about treating a subtype of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that is defined as occurring mainly during dream (REM) sleep - I'll call it REM OSA for short. To give you some background, our sleep can be broken down into two categories: Dream or REM sleep and non-REM sleep. OSA typically occurs in both stages, but can be more prominent in REM sleep. And as described above, some patients have OSA almost exclusively in REM sleep.

Sleep researchers are not sure if REM OSA causes the same type of daytime symptoms as regular OSA - and are thus not sure if treatment will improve quality of life. REM OSA is more common in females and in those with smaller neck circumferences. In this study, Dr. Su assessed daytime functioning with questionnaires to see if CPAP helps.

The results did show that treating REM OSA with CPAP improved daytime functioning, including improved sleepiness, fatigue, mood, and overall status. They concluded that patients with REM OSA should be treated with CPAP. This has been my clinical experience as well.

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