Sleep Apnea and Associated Diseases

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Overview of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea and Autoimmune Diseases
Patient Stories


Sleep apnea causes people to frequently stop breathing during sleep. The episodes can last for several seconds or longer. It results in unrefreshing sleep which can cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue. It is associated with many diseases, including high blood pressure, obesity, and heart problems. It is diagnosed with sleep laboratory studies, and typically treated with a CPAP machine, however other methods may include surgery, oxygen, medications, and throat exercises.

Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) is associated with several types of sleep disruptions, including restless leg syndrome) but there is not an increased prevalence of sleep apnea in scleroderma patients. (Also see What is Scleroderma?)

Sleep Apnea People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. American Sleep Apnea Association

Sleep Apnea and Autoimmune Diseases

Scleroderma can cause significant sleep disturbances, including disruption of sleep due to restless leg syndrome, heartburn, shortness of breath, and joint and muscle pain. However, there is not an increased incidence of sleep apnea in scleroderma patients.

The Association of Body Mass Index (BMI) and Body Composition with Pain, Disease Activity, Fatigue, Sleep and Anxiety in Women with Fibromyalgia. The promotion of an optimal BMI might contribute to ameliorate some of the FMS symptoms. PubMed, Nutrients, 2019 May 27;11(5):1193. (Also see Fibromyalgia)

The role of oxidative stress in the relation between fibromyalgia (FMS) and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). OSAS and FMS were highly prevalent, which indicated that oxidative stress might play a role in the pathophysiology of both diseases, especially if they co–exist in the same patient. PubMed, Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. (Also see Fibromyalgia and Oxidative Stress)

Sleep disruption in systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) patients: clinical and polysomnographic findings. Patients with SSc have significant disturbance of their sleep. Esophageal dyskinesia and dyspnea, which are common complications of SSc, were commonly associated with indices of sleep disruption. RLS (restless legs syndrome) but not sleep apnea appears to have an increased prevalence in SSc. Sleep Med. (Also see Restless Leg Syndrome, Esophageal Involvement, and Lung Involvement)

Complications of Sleep Apnea

Nocturia in Patients With Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Continuous positive airway pressure has the potential to reduce nocturia and risk factors for SDB, which may be beneficial in older men with CVD and obstructive sleep apnea. PubMed, Circ J. (Also see Cardiac (Heart) Involvement)

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea. An overnight sleep study, or polysomnography, is required to diagnose OSA. Medscape.

Sleep Disturbance and Illness

Sleep Disturbance and Illness. With the onset of chronic illness, a good night's sleep is often the first thing to go. Sometimes poor sleep is a precursor to illness, and other times it is a result. ISN.

Overview of Sleep Disorders and Illness
Suggestions for Better Sleep
Sleep Disorders and Genetics
Sleep Spindles
Immune System and Circadian Clocks
Infections and Sleep
Inflammation and Sleep
Sleep Apnea


Sleep Apnea Treatments and Drugs. For milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. If these measures don't improve your signs and symptoms or if your apnea is moderate to severe, a number of other treatments are available. Certain devices can help open up a blocked airway. In other cases, surgery may be necessary. Mayo Clinic.

Sleep Apnea Patient Stories

Sherry: Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism and Raynaud's He said Fibromyalgia is just pain, and if I could not handle my job, I should quit…

William M: Scleroderma or Lupus I had to give up my career of being a registered nurse (RN) over two years ago due to total disability…

Go to Sleep Disturbance Personal Stories

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