Findings of a recent study show that adherence to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for patients newly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may improve after a short course of the sleep aid eszopiclone.

To test whether eszopiclone would improve early CPAP adherence, 154 newly diagnosed OSA patients were recruited for a prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The participants were randomized to receive either eszopiclone or placebo for their first 14 days of CPAP therapy. CPAP compliance was measured for 24 weeks.

Results showed significant differences between the eszopiclone group and the placebo group. Patients who received eszopiclone used their CPAP devices more nights per week, and for an hour longer per night, on average. Additionally, increased adherence with CPAP in the eszopiclone group was sustained for the entire 6-month study, even though the sedative hypnotics were used for only 2 weeks.

“We know that non-benzodiazepine sedative hypnotics promote sleep onset and continuity. Additionally, they can be safely used in patients with OSA, especially those already using CPAP,” said author Anita Shah, DO. “To date, the only consistently reliable predictor of long-term use has been compliance with CPAP at treatment initiation. Studies suggest that long-term adherence patterns may be established very early in the course of therapy.”

“Because we know that CPAP therapy improves sleep quality, reduces daytime sleepiness, enhances quality of life, and may mitigate the excessive risk for cardiovascular events associated with this disorder, this small intervention could represent a profound clinical benefit to these patients,” said principal investigator Christopher Lettieri, MD.

The study was presented at the [removed]American Thoracic Society’s International Conference[/removed] in San Diego.