Sharing bed with wife helps men's sleep apnea Rx
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Men with sleep apnea are more likely to stick with their overnight treatment if their wives stay in bed with them rather than flee their snoring, a small study suggests.
In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), soft tissues in the throat temporarily collapse during sleep, causing repeated stops and starts in breathing. Major symptoms include loud snoring and daytime fatigue caused by poor sleep.
The most effective therapy for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, which involves wearing a facemask through which the CPAP device delivers pressurized air to keep the airways open overnight. Despite the effectiveness of CPAP, however, the therapy's cumbersome nature makes many OSA sufferers reluctant to use it regularly.
The new findings, based on a study of 10 married couples, included a husband with CPAP and a wife without the condition.
The study found that on nights the couples slept separately, the husbands wore the CPAP device for at least 4 hours 43 percent of the time. On nights when couples slept together, however, husbands met this treatment goal three quarters of the time -- a "dramatic difference," Dr. Rosalind Cartwright, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told Reuters Health.
She reports the findings in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Clinicians who treat sleep apnea have long sought ways to improve patients' CPAP compliance. "But we have not been able to find a good way to do it," Cartwright said.
While having couples sleep in the same bed sounds like a simple solution, she pointed out that OSA affects both partners, and many spouses resort to leaving the room so they can get a good night's sleep. Of the 10 couples in Cartwright's study, 4 were regularly sleeping apart before the husband began CPAP therapy.
At the study's outset, all couples spent a night in the sleep lab so their sleep quality could be monitored by polysomnography. The husbands then began CPAP treatment. Over the next 2 weeks, the couples kept sleep logs documenting whether they slept together each night; and data downloaded from the CPAP machine was used to gauge the husbands' compliance with the therapy.
In general, Cartwright found, the findings showed that a husband was more likely to use the device when he shared the bed with his wife.
In a second sleep lab study done 2 weeks into the husbands' CPAP therapy, Cartwright also found that the men's sleep had improved, as had their scores on a standard measure of quality of life.
Their wives' quality of life scores, in contrast, had not improved, and were actually lower than those of their husbands.
Many wives of men with OSA, Cartwright explained, become "fragile sleepers," waking often during the night to get their snoring husband to turn over onto his side, or to make sure he is still breathing.
Some wives, after years of listening to their husband gasp for air in his sleep, become conditioned to waking up to check on him.
Not surprisingly, it may take longer than 2 weeks for women to break these patterns and sleep soundly, according to Cartwright.
"So," she said, "we need to encourage wives to stick with it and stay in the bed."
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, April 15, 2008.
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