Ask The Sleep Doctor: Depression and Sleep, Sleep Apps and Sleep Apnea and Car Accidents

Sleep doctor ready to answer questions

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I suffer from depression and am always sleepy. My health care provider says it is due to my depression. I live alone but on vacations friends tell me I snore and appear to stop breathing. Could there be a relationship?


Yes. Although sleepiness can occur in depression, fatigue is much more common. Several studies have pointed out that patients with depression who are sleepy have a high incidence of sleep apnea. I would definitely talk to your health care provider about getting tested for sleep apnea.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I have sleep apnea and I check my nightly performance on my sleep app. The downloads to my cell phone indicate that I am having four to six events per hour at night. Should I be concerned?


No, that is an excellent response. A position paper published in 2013 by the American Thoracic Society stated that a number of 10 or less on these downloads was acceptable and indicative of a good response to treatment. Remember, the CPAP machine’s detection system is far from exact and tends to overestimate events.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My wife was diagnosed with sleep apnea about two years ago. She stopped using her CPAP in the first month of treatment. She has had two fender benders in the last year. Luckily, no one was hurt. Could these accidents be due to sleep apnea?


Yes. Recent studies have shown that drivers with sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to have motor vehicle accidents than those that do not have it. More importantly, treating the sleep apnea will decrease the incidence to normal within one to two weeks. I would urge your wife to discuss with her sleep specialist the reasons for her poor usage. Most of the time this can be rectified.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband has severe sleep apnea. He was diagnosed last year. He refuses treatment because he says he is not tired or fatigued. Is that a good reason?


No, it is not. Many patients with sleep apnea do not have the symptoms of sleepiness. However, untreated, their risk of heart attack or stroke is just as high as someone who has it and complains of sleepiness and fatigue. In fact, in a recent study those with untreated sleep apnea were two times more likely to have cardiac related problems, including sudden death.

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is Board Certified in Sleep Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Internal Medicine. His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day  is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website which offers a wealth of information on sleep topics.

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