How Does Sleep Apnea Impact the Brain?
It is widely known these days that obstructive sleep apnea can present a wide range of dangerous complications for someone’s health.Now, there is also mounting research that the condition has negative impacts on brain structure and function. Obstructive sleep apnea has been connected to varying medical problems including high blood pressure, heart disease and type ii diabetes.
According to new research from the ucla school of nursing, published online in the journal of sleep research, people with sleep apnea show significant changes in the levels of two important brain chemicals, which could be a reason that many have symptoms that impact their day-to-day lives.
It may seem logical that if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you won’t feel alert the next day and will therefore be forgetful. But the impact of sleep apnea is much more serious than that. According to a study published by the american academy of sleep medicine in 2017, people with severe, untreated sleep apnea had significant damage in multiple areas of the brain.
However, the effects of sleep apnea on the brain can be just as alarming. It is vital to consider what sleep deprivation or air deprivation during sleep can do to the human brain. Understanding how this surprisingly common disorder impacts the brain brings home the point that those who suffer from sleep apnea need to seek treatment as some damage when caught quickly is reversible.
Sleep deprivation had a similar negative impact when researchers looked at beta-amyloid levels in the brain, according to a paper published in april 2018 in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the united states of america. It’s important to raise awareness of the potential risk that sleep apnea may pose for cognitive decline and make anyone who notices sleep apnea symptoms (like snoring, daytime drowsiness, having a dry mouth when you wake up, or morning headache) tell their doctor and get screened for sleep apnea, carvalho says.
Being overweight makes you more prone to instances of apnea, but studies have shown that apnea makes your body less likely to burn fat easily which compounds the problems. Sleep loss can lead to irreversible brain cell damage. This causes a decline in memory, recall, focus, and cognitive functions which can impact just about every area of your day to day life.
Sleep Apnea and Memory Loss
Jackson, a vice-chancellor’s senior research fellow in rmit’s school of biomedical and health sciences, said the results showed the need for further studies to better understand the role of untreated osa on memory processing.“brain scans of people with sleep apnea show they have a significant loss of grey matter from regions that overlap with the autobiographic memory network,” she said.
Changes in brain matter and damage to neurons caused by sleep deprivation can lead to memory loss and other complications. Recent studies have shown that sleep apnea also changes the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. What does this mean? the good news is, this damage may be reversible.
Another side of the explanation ‘why is sleep apnea linked to memory loss?’ is subject to physiology. The regular flow of oxygen keeps our brain in shape. Once your breathing gets interrupted due to sleep apnea, your brain faces temporary but multiple oxygen shortfalls.
Daytime confusion and memory loss are known symptoms of sleep apnea; people with the condition often rouse hundreds of times a night (without fully waking) and are tired and forgetful the next day. But a study in the june 27, 2008, edition of the journal neuroscience letters suggests that there may be more to it than just that. What you can do to protect yourself. Ucla researchers plan to study whether vitamin b1 (also known as thiamin) supplements might help sleep apnea patients regain some of their lost brain tissue. The vitamin helps move glucose into the cells, preventing their death from oxygen starvation, and physicians currently use it to treat this type of memory loss in alcoholic patients.
Sleep apnea may hasten memory and thinking declines, leading to earlier diagnoses of mild cognitive impairment and alzheimer’s disease, suggests a study released thursday. Patients with sleep apnea were, on average, diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (mci) nearly 10 years earlier than those who didn’t suffer from breathing problems during their slumber, according to new york university researchers.
“Given that so many older adults have sleep breathing problems, these results are exciting –we need to examine whether using cpap could possibly help prevent or delay memory and thinking problems.”. Ash stressed the importance of getting diagnosed and dealing with sleep problems, since in addition to memory decline, snoring and sleep apnea have also been linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and other life-threatening conditions.