A study shows that fatigue is significantly reduced and energy increased in individuals with obstructive sleep apnea after 3 weeks of CPAP therapy. Most people with obstructive sleep apnea often experience fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness.
CPAP therapy is the treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP provides a steady stream of air through a mask that is worn during sleep, which keeps the airway open to prevent pauses in breathing and restore normal oxygen levels.
Obstructive sleep apnea in each of the 59 study participants had been confirmed in an overnight polysomnography in a sleep lab. Obstructive sleep apnea was defined as having an apnea-hypopnea index of 10 or more hypopneas (partial reductions) and apneas (complete pauses) in breathing per hour of sleep.
They were randomly assigned to have either placebo CPAP therapy or therapeutic CPAP therapy, and they came back to the lab for a night of either mock titration or CPAP titration. They were taught how to use the equipment and told to make use of it at home every night for 3 weeks.
The study results show that fatigue scores on 2 independent measures were significantly reduced with CPAP therapy: on the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory, from 8.76 at the beginning of the treatment to -0.10 after treatment; and on the fatigue-inertia subscale of the Profile of Mood States, from 7.17 at the beginning of the treatment to 4.03 after treatment. These results reveal that individuals were no longer experiencing clinically significant fatigue levels following the 3 week period.
After 3 weeks of CPAP therapy, energy levels also increased, with a significant score increase from 14.28 at the beginning of the treatment to 16.52 after treatment on the vigor-activity subscale of the Profile of Mood States. Changes in fatigue and energy weren’t observed in individuals who received placebo CPAP therapy.
Further analysis revealed that CPAP therapy seemed to be particularly beneficial for individuals who were excessively sleepy or fatigued prior to treatment. Daytime sleepiness in this group was significantly reduced with CPAP therapy, with their score on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale going down from 13.0 at the beginning of the treatment to 8.9 after treatment.