A comprehensive evaluation of insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea and comorbid insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea in US military personnel

Mysliwiec, V., Brock, M. S., Pruiksma, K. E., Straud, C. L., Taylor, D. J., Hansen, S., Foster, S. N., Mithani, S., Zwetzig, S., Gerwell, K., Young-McCaughan, S., Powell, T., Blue Star, J. A., Cassidy, D. G., Mintz, J., & Peterson, A. L., on behalf of the STRONG STAR Consortium
Dec 17, 2022

Sleep, 45(12), 1-13.

Study Objectives: The aim of this study was to characterize the sleep disorders of insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and comorbid insomnia and OSA (COMISA) in active duty military personnel.

Methods: Prospective observational study of 309 military personnel with a mean age of 37.17 years (SD = 7.27). Participants served in 4 branches of the US military (47.9% Air Force, 38.8% Army, 11.3% Navy, and 1.9% Marines). Sleep diagnoses were rendered after video-polysomnography and a clinical evaluation. Validated self-report measures assessed insomnia severity, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep quality, disruptive nocturnal behaviors, nightmare disorder, shift work disorder, sleep impairment, fatigue, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, anxiety, depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). General linear models and Pearson chi-square tests were used for between-group differences in data analyses.

Results: Insomnia was diagnosed in 32.7%, OSA in 30.4% and COMISA in 36.9%. Compared to military personnel with OSA alone, those with insomnia only and COMISA had significantly greater insomnia severity, disruptive nocturnal behaviors, sleep-related impairment, rates of nightmare disorder, and poorer sleep quality (all Ps < .05). They also reported greater symptoms of fatigue, PTSD, anxiety, and depression (all Ps < .05). There were no significant differences among the 3 sleep disorder diagnostic groups on sleepiness, shift work disorder, or TBI.

Conclusions: Military personnel with insomnia only and COMISA overall report worsened symptoms of sleep disorders, sleep-related impairment, fatigue, and psychiatric disorders than those with OSA. Results highlight the importance of a comprehensive assessment for sleep-related impairment, sleep, and comorbid disorders in military personnel with clinically significant sleep disturbances.