You’re a middle-aged man. And you’re in good shape. You’re not overweight, you stick to a healthy diet, you don’t smoke, your alcohol intake is minimal, and you work out regularly.
But you have obstructive sleep apnea.
Turns out, that one strike against you is enough to cause cognitive decline. A new study examined men aged 35 to 70 who had been diagnosed with mild to severe sleep apnea, but were otherwise healthy. A separate control group was also recruited, made up of men who were healthy and hadn’t been diagnosed with OSA. Both groups were given a battery of tests.
The study found that the group of men who suffered from untreated sleep apnea experienced reduced mental function in areas such as impulse control, judgment and recognizing the feelings of others. The study also showed that the men with obstructive sleep apnea had reduced attention spans, executive functioning and short-term visual recognition memory.
Possibly worst of all? The study also demonstrated that those cognitive deficits rose with increasing severity. In other words, the worse the sleep apnea, the more extreme the cognitive decline.
As we’ve shared in other blog posts, untreated sleep apnea is strongly correlated with a number of other conditions, including heart disease, stroke and glaucoma, alongside a range of psychological disorders like depression and anxiety. But it was long believed that the cognitive decline associated with sleep apnea was due to one of those related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. But according to this study, that’s just not the case. Sleep apnea is enough to cause cognitive decline in otherwise healthy individuals – there aren’t any other associated conditions to blame.
If you think you’ve developed obstructive sleep apnea, it’s time to stop suffering. Contact us today for an at-home sleep study.