Dementia and Sleep Apnea Effects

Causes of Dementia – Dementia and Sleep Apnea Effects

Those with difficulty in sleeping at night should be aware that there is a strong connection between dementia and sleep apnea effects. Trouble sleeping at night is one of the main causes of dementia.

One of the consequences of sleeplessness is low blood oxygen levels that reduce oxygen supply to the brain. Researchers have found that people with sleeping troubles are more likely to develop dementia, and sleep apnea effects encompass more people than we realize.

Although there are other causes of dementia, poor sleeping and the inability to sleep are strong contributing factors to Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Unfortunately, sleep apnea and dementia are linked because cognitive memory loss appears to be a direct result of the inability to sleep long enough to sustain sufficient REM sleep, one of the results of dementia and sleep apnea effects.

Consequences of Sleeplessness

If you are unable to sleep, or you are able to sleep but start snoring then stop breathing, you should learn what the consequences of sleeplessness are. Sleeping and Alzheimer’s are co-related for several reasons. Alzheimer’s and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are chronic conditions with an epidemiological overlap. However, it’s unknown exactly how many Alzheimer patients have OSA.

Research shows that patients with Alzheimer’s and memory loss have five times greater chance of presenting with OSA than those who are cognitively non-impaired. If you are sleeping at night without sleep disturbances, there’s a good chance you are free from sleep apnea and neurological disorders. If not, and you have difficulty in sleeping at night on a regular basis, don’t wait to see your doctor about your sleeping troubles. Especially if you’re not able to sleep at all.

Unable to Sleep? (Sleep Apnea and Dementia)

A recent study suggests that dementia and sleep apnea effects may speed up the normal decline of memory and thinking, leading to mild cognitive impairment and the onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s and memory loss.

On average, patients with sleep apnea presented with mild cognitive impairment 10 years earlier than individuals without difficulty in sleeping at night, according to New York University researchers.

Authors of this study reported those with sleep apnea and snoring were diagnosed five years sooner than those without sleeping troubles.

Neurology Journal published this study of dementia and sleep apnea effects.

How to Delay Cognitive Memory Loss

Studies also show that sleep apnea and snoring is common in seniors and dementia and sleep apnea effects touch as many as 53% of men and 26% of women —many of whom go undiagnosed. Dementia and sleep apnea effects are far-reaching.

Dr. Varga and his colleagues found that sleep apnea was connected to an earlier onset of cognitive memory loss. Treatment for breathing problems during sleep delays the onset of MCI by up to 10 years.

CPAP Machines Help

Treatment for sleeping without sleep medications had amazing results. Those with sleep disturbances who were treated declined at the same speed as those without sleep apnea or sleep disturbances. CPAP machines used in the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring is a boon to help people breathe better as they sleep.

Some Causes and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Dr. Charles Atwood, a sleep specialist and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said,

“Oxygen levels drop because people with sleep apnea have periods during the night when their throats close up and they briefly stop breathing. A common cause is obesity. The weight of the flab around the neck pushes down on the throat at a time when its muscles have relaxed with sleep. That pressure can briefly close the throat until the person partially awakens, gasping for air. And that can happen as many as 300 to 400 times a night.”

Atwood concluded, “They often don’t wake up enough that they are conscious of being awake. Then they wake up in the morning feeling really tired and unrefreshed.”

Poor Sleeping Interferes with Waste Disposal

Deep sleep or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is the time for the brain to take care of waste disposal. Soundly sleeping at night is a natural healing balm and cleansing agent. Sleep disturbance prevents the job from getting done effectively. That leaves an accumulation of amyloid proteins that form plaque. Tau tangles that can cause cognitive memory loss.

Not Sleeping? Your Hippocampus Could be Stressed

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Nobody wants a stressed hippo. Who would intentionally stress out their own hippocampus? But, if you’re not sleeping correctly or, if you start snoring then stop breathing, the neurons in your hippocampus may be suffering from stress.

“It’s known that certain neurons in the hippocampus — where much of Alzheimer’s is thought to start — are exquisitely sensitive to drops in oxygen,” Varga says, “Sleep apnea may just stress those neurons out.”

Sleep Apnea And Dementia

The protein responsible for Alzheimer’s disease is amyloid. And, the build-up of amyloid in the daytime declines during deep sleep.  However, those with an inability to sleep deeply don’t experience sufficient periods of low amyloid production. This is when amyloid builds up in excess and hardens. This forms plaques which are responsible in large part for brain shrinkage and cognitive memory loss.

A healthy brain eliminates protein fragments. But, in Alzheimer’s disease, protein fragments build-up to form hazardous plaques. Furthermore, it’s the formation of these amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that contribute to degradation in the brain. Thus, the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleeping, which may require the usage of sleep medications.

Causes and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea


  • Lack of melatonin production at night
  • Loose flesh on neck blocking airways
  • Inability to sleep deeply (snoring stops breathing)
  • Insomnia due to caffeine or blue light, etc.


  • Not sleeping – not able to sleep at all
  • Poor sleeping – feel tired in the morning
  • Snoring and stop breathing – bed partner is usually aware of this
  • Fogginess or forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Daytime grogginess

Oxygen and Sleeping

In conclusion, what these human bodies need on a regular basis without fail are oxygen and REM sleep. Therefore, open a window in your bedroom at nighttime to get a good circulation of oxygen throughout the night. Keep it as dark as possible in your sleeping room. Ask your bed partner to tell you if you wake yourself up by snoring.

See Also:

Link Between Sleep Apnea and Dementia

Sleep Medications

Sleep Apnea and Dementia

Beat The Brain Drain

Myths About Healthy Aging



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