Pharmacological management of co-morbid obstructive sleep apnoea and insomnia

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Clinical presentation of both insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (COMISA) is common. Approximately 30% of clinical cohorts with OSA have insomnia symptoms and vice versa. The underlying pathophysiology of COMISA is multifactorial. This poses a complex clinical challenge. Currently, there are no clinical guidelines or recommendations outside of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi). Clinically translatable precision medicine approaches to characterize individual causes or endotypes may help optimize future pharmacological management of COMISA. 

Areas covered: This review article provides an up-to-date account of COMISA and its consequences, the underlying pathophysiology of sleep apnea, insomnia and COMISA, current treatment approaches and limitations, pharmacotherapy targets and future priorities. 

Expert opinion: There are multiple promising emerging therapies, but clinical trial data specifically in COMISA populations are lacking. This is a priority for future investigation to inform development of evidence-based guidelines. Pharmacotherapies, particularly for insomnia, do not target the underlying causes of the disorder thus, are indicated for short-term use only and should remain second line. Future multidisciplinary research should be directed toward the multifactorial nature of COMISA and the challenges of adapting COMISA treatment in clinical practice and overcoming the practical barriers that health-care providers and consumers encounter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1963-1973
Number of pages11
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • pathophysiology
  • pharmacotherapy
  • precision medicine
  • Sleep disordered breathing
  • sleep disturbance
  • treatment


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