A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has found that flu patients are 5-times less likely to require hospitalization if they adhere to CPAP therapy.

According to the study, “In comparing odds of hospitalization from influenza infections, patients conservatively treated without CPAP or nonadherent to CPAP therapy were at a nearly 5-times greater risk of hospitalization than those adherent to CPAP”. This significant difference helps solidify the importance of adhering to CPAP therapy, especially during flu season.

64% of patients not using CPAP therapy were hospitalized, compared to 24% of those using their CPAP regularly. The author of the study, Glen Greenough, MD, said, “These results would suggest that use of a treatment, CPAP, that improves sleep quality reduces the severity of influenza infection as determined by rate of hospitalization… It also suggests that treating sleep apnea with CPAP could help reduce hospitalizations, thereby reducing healthcare costs.” Reducing hospitalizations could make a big impact on hospitals that have already strained their resources from COVID-19. 

Why could CPAP use keep people out of hospitals? Sleep plays an important role in creating a strong immune system. Sleeping well helps your immune system function more efficiently. Antibodies and cells that fight infection are reduced when you don’t get enough sleep. Therefore, making sure you are getting enough quality sleep is a good way to ensure that your immune system is strong enough to defend against the flu.

Tips for Proper CPAP Use During Flu Season

  1. Clean your CPAP regularly. Care for your CPAP as directed to keep it hygienic and in peak performance.
  2. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. It’s harder to fall asleep and harder to wake up feeling rested if your body can never settle into a routine. Try to stick to one schedule that works for your daily life.
  3. Use your CPAP as often as directed. Being truly adherent to CPAP therapy means not just using your CPAP occasionally, but as often as it has been prescribed for you to use.

If you, or a loved one, are having trouble with grogginess during the day, sleep apnea could be affecting the quality of your sleep. In order to take care of your health during flu season, consider taking a quick sleep screening. Answering a few quick questions will help you know if you’re at risk of suffering from a sleep disorder.