Regular Bedtime Could Improve CPAP Compliance Among People With Sleep Apnea, Study Finds

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People with sleep apnea -- a sleep disorder where breathing is disrupted during sleep -- are more apt to comply with treatment if they go to bed at a regular time each night, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Penn State University School of Nursing found an association between increased regularity in bedtime and greater compliance with using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is considered the best therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Using a CPAP involves wearing a mask over the face during sleep; the mask delivers air to keep a person's airways open using air pressure.

"Long-term use of CPAP, such as after the first month or longer, requires regular routines that are conducive to establishing a new health behavior, study researcher Amy M. Sawyer, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor at the university, said in a statement.

The findings will be presented at the annual SLEEP 2013 meeting, and were recently published in an online supplement of the SLEEP journal.

The study included 97 adults who had just been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. They kept a sleep diary for seven days before starting CPAP treatment where they noted their bedtimes, and then researchers monitored their compliance with the CPAP for the next month.

Adherence is important for sleep apnea treatment because evidence shows it can help decrease daytime fatigue. According to an article in the journal Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society:

Patients will describe the effect as emerging from a daytime fog and being able to live a productive and healthy life. CPAP, the primary treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), has been shown to normalize sleep architecture, reduce daytime sleepiness, enhance daily function, elevate mood, reduce automobile accidents, and decrease blood pressure and other cardiovascular events.

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