Disturbed Sleep and Musculoskeletal Pain in the Bed Partner of Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Published: October 21, 2012

Anna Karla A Smith, Sonia Maria G Togeiro, Sergio Tufik, and Suely Roizenblatt
Sleep Med, March 18, 2009.
Department of Psychobiology, Federal University of São Paulo, Rua Napoleão de Barros 925, CEP: 04024-002, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been recognized as a distressing experience to the female partner, but a causal association remains controversial. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence supports a relationship of distress and sleep disruptions with musculoskeletal pain, also prevalent in middle-aged women. To test the hypothesis that sharing a bed with an OSA man may contribute to manifestations of distress and impaired sleep, we conducted a case-control study of 17 OSA wives and 17 wives of healthy sleepers.


Clinical outcome variables were scores of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and visual analog scales (VAS), tender point (TP) count and algometric index. Sleep outcome parameters were VAS scores for sleep quality and polysomnographic (PSG) parameters. Secondary outcomes were VAS scores for distress and marital relationship and coping strategies adopted by OSA wives. Clinical assessment and PSG scoring were conducted blindly.


After controlling for age and menopausal status, OSA wives exhibited lower sleep quality and higher distress scores than controls (p<0.05, all). Increase in pain threshold (TP count and algometric index) and in FIQ score were also observed, and in their PSG, there was an increase in awaken period and stage 1 amount during sleep, as well as in alpha power during slow wave sleep (p<0.05, all). These sleep parameters had substantial correlation with tiredness and poor sleep quality and were moderately correlated to pain assessments and distress scores.


Thus, independently of age and menopausal status of the group, wives of OSA patients exhibited an increase in pain threshold, distress and impaired sleep in comparison to controls.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

e-mail icon
Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon