Sleep Apnea and Memory Loss 

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Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2022 at 10:00 pm    

Do you find yourself forgetting where you put your keys? Did you put the milk in the freezer and the creamer in the microwave? Do you find yourself having difficulties remembering what you did last week?

Memory loss can be a frightening and confusing condition. At first, you may feel like you can’t concentrate or you’re forgetting the little things. As memory problems progress, symptoms can become much more severe and debilitating. For some people, memory loss may be triggered by a surprising condition: sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

There are several different categories of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, in general, is characterized as a condition where a person stops breathing during the night. These periods where breathing stops interrupt an individual’s sleep cycle. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder. It occurs when a person’s airway is physically blocked. An airway can become obstructed by improperly relaxed throat muscles, the tongue, or the collapse of the soft palate during sleep.

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring
  • Partner complaining of snoring
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Waking up at night gasping for air
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Irritability

How Does Sleep Apnea Impact Memory?

Sleep apnea can impact memory in a variety of ways. Acute memory problems may be a result of fatigue and lack of sleep. When a person is drowsy during waking hours, they may feel tired and groggy, almost like they are in a fog. Fatigue can impact cognition, making it difficult to concentrate and leading to minor lapses in memory. Studies have also shown that sleep apnea is linked to mild cognitive impairment in adults.

Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that impacts an individual’s memory to the point where it becomes noticeable to others, especially family or friends. Mild cognitive impairment can be bothersome and frustrating. Generally, a person will lose things, forget appointments or events, and have difficulty coming up with common words. Some studies indicate that those with sleep apnea are diagnosed with MCI ten years earlier than those who did not suffer from sleep apnea.

Unfortunately, sleep apnea has also recently been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a serious degenerative brain disease. The condition is the most common form of dementia and results in memory loss and a significant decline in cognitive abilities. This decline is severe enough to interfere with daily life, unlike most cases of mild cognitive impairment. The disease is progressive and gets worse over time. There is also no known cure. While it is still not fully understood how sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s are linked, studies indicate may be due to the constant disruption in sleep, hypoxia, and changes in cardiovascular comorbidities.

While more research needs to be conducted, some studies show that treating sleep apnea can help lessen some of the cognitive damage done by the condition. Those suffering from sleep apnea should seek immediate help from a medical professional to improve their sleep tonight and their chances of avoiding cognitive impairment in the future.

At Silent Night Therapy, we understand how important a good night’s rest is to your body and mind. Our team of professionals can help diagnose and treat your sleep-related problems.

Don’t let hitting the sheets become stressful. Let the team at Silent Night Therapy help you get the rest you’ve been dreaming of. Schedule a complimentary sleep consultation today. Call 631-983-2463 now.