People with sleep apnea -- a condition that involves stopping breathing for periods throughout the night, leading to disrupted sleep and daytime sleepiness -- could boost their work productivity by having their sleep condition treated, according to a new study.
The small study, presented at the Sleep and Breathing Conference in Berlin, shows that CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure, a common treatment for sleep apnea) treatment for sleep apnea is linked with greater work productivity. Because the study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the findings should be considered preliminary.
"Previous research has shown the potential benefits of CPAP to patients' health and quality of life and our findings add to this body of evidence, demonstrating the advantages the treatment can have on productivity at work," study researcher Dr. Evangelia Nena M.D., Ph.D. said in a statement.
The study included 45 people with sleep apnea between ages 40 and 56. They completed a questionnaire at the beginning of the study to analyze work productivity and daytime sleepiness. Then, thirty-five of them underwent sleep apnea treatment with CPAP, while the other 10 did not.
After three months, those who had undergone the CPAP treatment had greater work productivity and less daytime sleepiness, while those who didn't undergo the treatment didn't experience either of these benefits.
As many as 12 million people in the U.S. have sleep apnea, according to the American Lung Association. In 2010, a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed that there is a strong correlation between sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness, as well as daytime sleepiness on work productivity. That finding highlights "the need of screening for OSA and sleepiness among working individuals," researchers wrote in the study.