Getting Good Zzzz’s: More On Sleep Apnea and Brain Damage

February 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm Leave a comment

Image by tizwas01 on Stock.Xchng Last week, I speculated about the potential for sleep apnea to stress and potentially damage the brain. (see Could Snoring Be Damaging Your Brain?)

I’ll be honest – I thought I was stretching things a bit.  There just weren’t a lot of studies on the subject, except for a curious link between the breathing/sleep disorder and Alzheimer’s. My thoughts were based the idea on the way apnea disrupts sleep and causes stress responses in the body and brain, both known to lead to problems in cognitive function.

But this week?
Well, I’m feeling a bit prescient.

A new study just came out of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.that confirms a link between sleep apnea and brain damage.

The research found that in men newly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, their brains had a significant decrease in grey matter. “Grey Matter” refers to the cerebral cortex, the tissue layer that surrounds much of the brain and is responsible for the majority of information processing.    A reduction in this area of the brain easily accounts for many side-effects of apnea,  including poor cognitive function, memory problems, reduced executive functions, and even various heart related issues.

So there you have it – an answer to last week’s question! Yes, if your snoring is caused by sleep apnea, it could indeed be damaging your brain. So get thee too a sleep clinic for diagnosis and treatment, as soon as possible!

Even if you don’t suspect apnea, but suffer from frequent or chronic insomnia, a trip to the sleep clinic (or at least your doctor) may be in order, too.  Insomnia is connected to similar symptoms of poor memory, emotional fluctuations, and reduced cognitive functions….  and another recent study has connected insomnia with loss of grey matter as well. .

So good quality, undisturbed sleep seems to be even more important to brain health than most of us suspected. It’s definitely worth your time and effort to get a good night’s rest.

Entry filed under: Sleep. Tags: , , .

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A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
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Authored by Tori Deaux
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