Does Positive Airway Pressure Therapy Result in Improved Sleep Quality?


Introduction: Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is the gold-standard for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) management. While it is known that PAP is efficacious for controlling breathing events during sleep when it is worn at the right pressure for the amount of time prescribed, there is less clear data on how well it improves sleep quality. There are few studies that have examined the effectiveness of PAP therapy on sleep quality. Methods: OSA participants (n = 241) from a larger trial examining a PAP adherence were included. Participants were provided with PAP instruction and followed at 2 months and 4 months. PAP adherence was measured as the number of hours per night at prescribed pressure, an objective measure of treatment adherence. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used as the primary measure of sleep quality. Results: The PSQI was significantly correlated with PAP adherence at both the 2-month and 4-month time points, such that lower sleep quality was associated with lower PAP use. This finding held for the sleep disturbance subscale of the PSQI. Over 55% of those using PAP therapy at the 4-month time point continued to report significantly disturbed sleep. Discussion: This study shows that PAP therapy does not appear to improve sleep quality to a degree that would be expected. Over half of those patients using PAP therapy still experienced disturbed sleep. Whether the disturbed sleep is directly attributable to the PAP device itself or to disturbed sleep secondary to uncontrolled OSA when PAP is not worn is worthy of further investigation.

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Stepnowsky, C. , Zamora, T. and Edwards, C. (2014) Does Positive Airway Pressure Therapy Result in Improved Sleep Quality?. Health, 6, 2416-2424. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.618278.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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