Chronic insomnia, premenopausal women and sleep disordered breathing: part 2. Comparison of nondrug treatment trials in normal breathing and UARS post menopausal women complaining of chronic insomnia

Christian Guilleminault, Luciana Palombini, Dalva Poyares, Susmita Chowdhuri
Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2002, 53 (1): 617-23

OBJECTIVE: The question addressed here is: Can a discrete sleep disordered breathing (SDB) play a role in the insomnia complaint of postmenopausal chronic insomniacs? To respond to the query, two groups of individuals derived from a cohort of postmenopausal chronic insomniacs recruited mostly from the community were enlisted in a treatment protocol. These subjects were all individuals identified with normal breathing (n=68) and all those recognized with Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) (n=62) pooled from a cohort of 349 postmenopausal insomniacs.

TREATMENT PROTOCOL: The 62 UARS were allocated to either treatment of chronic insomnia by behavioral approaches or treatment of SDB. Based on ENT evaluation, health professionals in charge of patients selected either treatment with nasal CPAP or treatment of nasal turbinates. A stratification correction was performed to obtain a near equal number of both treatment modalities in each of the two subgroups. The 68 individuals with normal breathing were randomly allocated to immediate behavioral treatment of insomnia or delay treatment of insomnia. The delay treatment received a list of 10 sleep hygiene recommendations by mail.

METHODOLOGY: Questionnaires, visual analog scales (VAS), Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), clinical interviews, clinical evaluation with oto-laryngologic clinical assessment of a presence/absence of narrow upper airway and location of narrowing. Actigraphy and polysomnography (PSG) with pressure transducer/and nasal cannula system and esophageal manometry.

DATA ANALYSES: All recording data were scored blind to patient's condition.

RESULTS: Two subjects in the SBD-CPAP treated group (Group B) and two subjects in the delayed treatment group (Group D) dropped out. Total sleep time was improved compared to baseline in all groups, including the delayed treatment group. One group was significantly better (ANOVA, P=.05) with a more important delta score compared to baseline, and this was the behaviorally treated non-SDB. Sleep latency was significantly decreased in the behaviorally treated group (with or without SBD), P=.05, compared to SBD-treated and delayed treatment groups. Sleep latency was, however, improved in all groups. VAS for "quality of sleep" was higher at 6 months in all the groups when compared to "baseline" values. VAS for "daytime fatigue" showed significant differences among the four groups (ANOVA, P=.01); the overall score at the end of treatment was significantly better in the SDB-treated group than the other three groups. SBD was treated either by radio frequency on nasal turbinate or by nasal CPAP. CPAP-treated patients had a lower VAS score than nasal turbinate treatment, but the difference was only a trend. The delta improvement (6-month baseline condition) in "daytime fatigue" of each subgroup was calculated and compared within and between groups. Despite the small number of subjects, the turbinate-treated subgroup was significantly different from Groups B, C and D (ANOVA, P=.05). When a similar comparison was made with the nasal CPAP group, there was only a nonsignificant trend when compared to Groups B, C and D.

CONCLUSION: Abnormal breathing during sleep significantly enhanced complaints of daytime fatigue in postmenopausal chronic insomniacs and this complaint improved with SDB treatment. This improvement is significantly better compared to SDB insomniacs treated with a behavioral regimen. Behavioral treatment, however, gave the best response in the non-SDB chronic insomnia group and improved better long sleep latency even in the SDB group. These results suggest the need to find an appropriate treatment for SBD even if mild and to recognize the role of SDB in relation to symptoms seen with chronic insomnia.

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