Are Your Sleep Problems Damaging Your Brain?

You”re excessively sleepy during the daytime. You wake up feeling unrefreshed after a full night”s sleep. You have problems with memory and concentration. You get morning or night headaches.   These are just a few of the most common symptoms you may notice if you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).   A recent research study published in the journal Sleep found that poor sleep quality and developing brain damage caused by OSA could be responsible for a whole host of cognitive issues – from poor memory to heart agitation.

As part of the South Korean study, 36 patients with OSA as well as 31 healthy volunteers were monitored overnight while they slept at a sleep center. Additionally, MRI scans were taken of their brain. According to the researchers after comparing the MRI scans, “in patients with severe OSA, gray matter concentrations were significantly reduced in the ventromedial frontal cortex.” Furthermore according the researchers claim “we found decrease of gray matter concentration in multiple brain regions of OSA patients compared to healthy volunteers.” Gray matter refers to the cerebral cortex, which is a layer of the brain responsible casino online processing sensory information from the body, decision-making, problem solving, vision, and memory.

This recent study is even more of a reason to get help if you or someone you love is suffering from sleep apnea. Their brain may be effected both in the short term processing of information, and there could be long term brain atrophy.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. OSA is the most common category of sleep-disordered breathing.  OSA happens when your body”s muscles relax while you sleep and the walls of your soft throat tissue briefly collapse. The walls then obstruct your breathing while you sleep.  With the throat frequently fully or partly blocked, your lungs cannot receive enough air. This results in pauses in breathing and drops in the oxygen level of your blood.

The most popular form of treatment for OSA is “continuous positive airway pressure” (or CPAP) therapy.  The CPAP therapy uses a mask and machine to increase air pressure in your throat so your airway does not collapse when you inhale. See your doctor or sleep specialist regularly while using CPAP to check the mask is correct and the treatment is working. Additionally, if you have moderate sleep apnea there are throat exercises you could practice at home that may help you get a good nights sleep.

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