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How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Brain Health?

November 10, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — drdernick @ 7:07 pm

Do you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? You probably already know about the effects it can have on your body, leaving you at an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and even diabetes. However, it may surprise you to learn that the disorder can also take a significant toll on your brain health. If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, it can lead to memory loss among other complications. If you’re interested in learning more about the effects on your brain, simply keep reading!

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect the Brain?

Recent studies show that obstructive sleep apnea can change the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to a number of different things. Let’s take a closer look at how the disorder can affect your brain health:

It Can Contribute to Memory Loss

Sleep apnea causes people to wake frequently throughout the night, preventing them from getting much-needed restorative sleep. As a result, it causes patients with the disorder to experience fatigue, shortened attention span, moodiness, and reduced short-term recall during the day. Consolidating memories is a vital link in the memory-creating process that occurs during sleep. When your rest is affected by sleep apnea, it results in impaired memory formation and forgetfulness.

It Changes the Shape of the Brain

During an apneic event, patients typically stop breathing which keeps the brain from receiving oxygen. Over time, this can cause not just chronic fatigue, but physical and immeasurable brain damage. Researchers found that the mammillary bodies (important structures in the brain that are critical for the memory stage) are nearly 20% smaller in adults who suffer from sleep apnea. Additionally, another study found that the combination of poor sleep quality and progressive brain damage could be responsible for poor memory, emotional problems, decreased cognitive functioning, and increased cardiovascular disturbances.

It Changes How the Brain Works

A 2016 study published by the Journal of Sleep Research by the UCLA School of Nursing investigated the injury caused to the insular cortex of the brain by sleep apnea. They found substantial differences in the two chemicals that influence how the brain is working. Based on their findings, they realized that the disorder causes a reorganization of how the brain is working.

The Importance of Sleep Apnea Therapy

The good news is that with sleep apnea therapy, you can improve your brain health. Studies found that treating the disorder can help return a patient’s brain chemicals to normal levels. They evaluated the effects of CPAP therapy on subjects who had significant damage to their bran matter and found that after a year of treatment, the matter was almost completely restored. Of course, even these findings point to promising results, more research is still being conducted to support this.

If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to seek treatment from your sleep dentist. With their help, you can ensure your brain health remains in optimal condition for years to come!

About the Author

Dr. Robert Dernick is known to be one of the most caring, experienced, and skilled dentists in the entire Woodlands area. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Today, he provides safe, effective, and non-invasive sleep apnea therapy using custom-made oral appliances. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, visit our website or call (281) 783-3419 to get the prompt relief you deserve.

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