Treating Sleep Apnea May Reduce Risk of Dementia


Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 at 6:34 pm    

If you snore because of sleep apnea, you may be at an increased risk of developing memory problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, or dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative studied the link and found that sleep-disordered breathing can cause beta-amyloid build-up in the brain, a key marker for Alzheimer’s. The researchers reviewed PET scans and determined that the plaque build-up starts before any symptoms of dementia appear. They also concluded that you could experience more signs of the cognitive disease if there’s a greater build-up.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which a person intermittently stops breathing while they’re sleeping. As a result, your body tries to compensate. This compensation results in gasping for air, snoring or coughing. These disruptions can significantly disturb your sleep throughout the night and lead to various health problems.

According to statistics, one out of every four people between 30 and 70 years old lives with sleep apnea. Experts have linked the condition to serious medical issues, such as stroke, depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Sleep apnea could even interfere with brain function and increase a person’s risk of developing dementia.

Connection Between Dementia and Sleep Apnea

Researchers have performed multiple studies on sleep apnea to learn about the link between the sleep disorder and dementia. During one particular review of several prior studies, researchers looked at the results and concluded there’s a strong connection between sleep apnea and dementia. They found that individuals with Alzheimer’s were five times more likely to have sleep apnea than those without the disease. They also discovered that around half of the people who participated in the study experienced sleep apnea before developing dementia.

The New York University School of Medicine also performed a study of more than 2,000 participants and reviewed their cognitive function and sleeping patterns. The results showed that mild cognitive impairment occurred in those with sleep apnea approximately ten years sooner than in those without. There was also a correlation between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s at 83 years old, instead of at 88 years, which was common for individuals without sleep apnea.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Although there isn’t a study that definitively proves sleep apnea can lead to dementia, there’s strong evidence showing a possible link. Fortunately, there are treatment options if you have sleep apnea and want to mitigate the risk of developing memory-related impairments and diseases.

A common form of treatment is continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). This treatment consists of a machine connected to a mask that you wear over your nose and mouth while you sleep. The machine keeps the airway open throughout the night using mild air pressure. The mild pressure ensures that enough air reaches your lungs. This machine can prevent or diminish snoring, improve sleep quality, and eliminate daytime drowsiness. Some studies have even shown CPAP machines can slow the progression of cognitive diseases, such as dementia.

Contact Us

Silent Night Therapy provides the treatment necessary to correct sleep-related issues and improve quality of life. If you have sleep apnea and want to learn about your options to get a better night’s sleep, call us at 631-983-2463 for a complimentary consultation.