Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a wide range of serious health problems. Unlike ordinary snoring, when you have sleep apnea you actually experience pauses in your breathing while you are asleep. That means you’re actually having short bouts of suffocation.
Sleep apnea can contribute to a wide range of physical health problems including an increased risk for conditions such as: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and heart attack.
Pauses in breathing caused by sleep apnea cause the sufferer wake frequently in the night. This means that they don’t get the quality or quantity of sleep they really need. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a higher risk of depression and anxiety. Studies show that those who have sleep apnea are more likely to experience these mental health issues than the general population.
Quality of Life
Sleep apnea patients often feel exhausted, short tempered, listless, and have trouble concentrating on tasks, which in turn causes significant negative impacts on daily life.
Additionally, sleep apnea can negatively affect patients’ relationships. Not only, as mentioned, are their own personalities affected, but their sleep partners will likely be getting inadequate sleep because of the sleep apnea related snoring. When both partners are sleep deprived the result is often greater stress and tension on the relationship.
Lack of sleep and the lack of oxygen to the brain that sleep apnea entails can mean serious memory problems for the sufferer.
A higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s has been linked to sleep apnea. Studies show that people with sleep disordered breathing (like sleep apnea) experience earlier onset of mild cognitive impairment compared to people. This means that the forgetfulness we often associate with old age starts sooner in life for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea.
If you think you are suffering from sleep apnea, do yourself and your family a favour, and get yourself assessed.