Study: People with sleep apnea who slept less than 7 hours per night had higher risk of death

Photo shows man sleeping while wearing CPAP mask to treat his sleep apnea.

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who slept less than seven hours per night had a higher risk of death compared to those with longer sleep, researchers reported. 

Researchers have known for some time that OSA is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. However, the association between sleep duration and risk of death in those with OSA is unclear. 
As part of the Sleep Heart Health Study, researchers included data for 2,574 people with OSA with a median of 11.7 years of follow-up. The researchers identified 688 all-cause deaths among the participants. Those sleeping less than seven hours had a significantly higher risk of all-cause death compared with those sleeping at least seven hours. Experts recommend that adults sleep between seven to nine hours a night. 

Further studies are needed to identify the underlying mechanism behind the link and to determine whether extending sleep among people with OSA and short sleep duration might improve health, the researchers said. Their study, funded by the NHLBI, appeared in JAMA Network Open.