Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may experience relief from nightmares with CPAP therapy, according to new research presented at SLEEP 2013 by Sadeka Tamanna, MD, MPH, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Laboratory at G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.
“One out of six veterans suffers from PTSD, which affects their personal, social, and productive life,” said Tamanna. “Nightmares are one of the major symptoms that affect their daily life, and prevalence of OSA is also high among PTSD patients and can trigger their nightmares.”
The study involved a retrospective review of medical records to identify OSA patients who also carried a PTSD diagnosis and were treated in a VA medical center sleep clinic between May 2011 and May 2012. Mean number of nightmares per week before treatment and up to six months after CPAP prescription was extracted. Treatment compliance was determined from CPAP memory cards.
Results show that the mean number of nightmares per week fell significantly with CPAP use, and reduced nightmare frequency after starting CPAP was best predicted by CPAP compliance.
“Patients with PTSD get more motivated to use CPAP once they get restful sleep without frequent nightmares, and their compliance improves,” said Tamanna.