Request an Appointment

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Brain?

February 24, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — tntadmin @ 10:10 pm
man with sleep apnea

Millions of Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) every year. However, most of those cases are undiagnosed or go untreated. While you may already know about the physical effects it can have on your body (i.e., increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes), you might be surprised to learn that it can take a significant toll on your brain as well. Read along to learn how failing to get a good night’s sleep can negatively affect your brain health.  

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Brain Health?

Ongoing studies have revealed that sleep apnea can change the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, causing several things. Some of that includes:

Memory Loss

Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night, meaning you’re waking frequently. Unfortunately, that can prevent you from getting much-needed restorative sleep. That may cause you to experience fatigue, shortened attention span, moodiness, and short-term recall during the day. Consolidating memories is a vital link in the memory-creating process, so when you’re not getting adequate sleep, it can lead to impaired memory formation and forgetfulness.

Altered Brain Shape

When patients stop breathing during an apneic event, it keeps the brain from receiving oxygen. Over time, this can result in chronic fatigue and immeasurable brain damage. Researchers found that the mammillary bodies (structures in the brain that are critical for the memory stage) are nearly 20% smaller in adults who suffer from sleep apnea.

Reduced Brain Function

In 2016, 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 discovered substantial differences in the two chemicals that influence how the brain is working. Based on their findings, they deduced that sleep apnea causes a reorganization of how the brain is working.

Why You Should Seek Sleep Apnea Therapy

Luckily, sleep apnea therapy can significantly improve your brain health. Studies show that seeking treatment can help return brain chemicals to normal levels. They evaluated the effects of CPAP therapy on subjects with prominent damage to their brain matter and found that after a year of treatment, the matter was almost completely restored. Even though these findings point to promising results, more research is being done to support this statement.

Are you suffering from sleep apnea? Don’t hesitate to seek treatment from your dentist! With their help, you can ensure your overall health stays in optimal condition for as long as possible!

About the Author

Dr. Gromling is passionate about helping patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health. He regularly participates in continuing education courses to refine his skill set, most prominently the L.D. Pankey Institute Continuum for Advanced Dentistry. If you’d like to learn more about the effects of sleep apnea on your brain, you can reach Dr. Gromling via his website or call (540) 869-4377.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Have a Question? Ask Dr. Gromling

Just fill out this short form and we’ll contact you with the answers your need!

Request an Appointment Download our Forms Like Us on Facebook Read our Reviews Give us a Call View our Map