Sleep Apnea Affects More Than Your Sleep
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which the body stops breathing while asleep. This could be due to an obstruction in the throat, a miscommunication between your brain and the muscles responsible for breathing, or a combination of both. In order to protect your body, the brain will jolt you awake so that you can breathe again. This process can occur anywhere from five to 30 times or more an hour.
These interruptions to your sleep can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. Additionally, your body is being repeatedly deprived of oxygen throughout the night, which can negatively impact your internal systems. Without proper sleep apnea treatment, your brain can sustain damage in the long run.
Sleeping Helps Maintain Your Mental Health
The loss of sleep takes a huge toll on your body and mind. The body needs rest to maintain its health. Without sleep, our brains can’t repair and replenish our physical and mental health.
A regular sleep routine is crucial to maintaining your mental health, and sleep apnea can affect your ability to sleep soundly through the night. Studies have shown that people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to report issues with their mental health than the general population.
Continue reading our guide to sleep apnea and mental health to learn more about the links between them.
The Effects of Sleeplessness on Your Mental Health
Your brain repairs itself during distinct phases of sleep, and if the phases are interrupted by sleep apnea, your mind can’t restore itself to its full potential. This can limit your ability to focus, leaving you feeling drained and irritable.
Concentration is crucial to everyday life, but sleep apnea can make it difficult to stop yourself from losing focus. Sleeplessness can impair your ability to drive, work to your full potential, and concentrate on important details — all essential skills for maintaining your busy lifestyle.
Emotional and Memory Processing
Not completing the sleep cycle can cause unexplained emotions and memories to surface at unexpected times. A healthy sleep cycle contributes to memory recall because you process the day’s information and experiences during sleep. You’ll be more able to remember and process memories when you get a full night of sleep to help you understand what you saw the day before.
Depression and Anxiety
Sleep apnea can contribute to several pre-existing mental health problems. However, it can also cause new symptoms that feel similar to those of depression and anxiety. Irritability and intense emotions are symptoms of sleep apnea that can cause or contribute to mental health problems.
Symptoms of sleep apnea that mirror depression and anxiety include:
- Inability to fall asleep or wake up on time
- Daytime exhaustion
- Irritability and mood swings
- Loss of focus and interest in activities
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, along with any symptoms of sleep apnea, our expert sleep dentist Dr. Robert Bergida recommends undergoing a sleep study. This will allow us to target your symptoms and create an accurate treatment plan. Treating sleep apnea can make it easier for your body to break negative cycles of poor sleep and mental health problems.
How Oxygen Helps Your Brain
Our brains require a lot of energy, and oxygen is essential to its healing and function. The brain requires more oxygen than your muscles, as it helps your cognitive and behavioral systems function properly.
With sleep apnea, your body is constantly deprived of oxygen throughout the night and, if left untreated, can cause irreversible damage to the brain. Your brain cells are sensitive to drops in oxygen, so it’s important to maintain proper breathing during sleep.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, seeking treatment can not only make a difference in the quality of your sleep, but can also protect your brain and mental health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can untreated sleep apnea cause anxiety?
While experts agree there is a connection between sleep apnea and anxiety, it’s unclear if one causes the other. Lack of sleep creates a biochemical reaction in your brain that can make you feel stressed and anxious. In turn, increased anxiety can lead to poor sleep quality and aggravate symptoms of sleep apnea.
Addressing sleep apnea directly can help alleviate anxiety symptoms, so it’s vital to determine whether you have sleep apnea with a professional sleep study.
Is sleep apnea stress-related?
The connection between stress and sleep apnea varies between patients. However, patients who suffer from sleep apnea tend to also suffer from other stress-related disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety.
Learn About Sleep Apnea in Queens
If you’re experiencing tiring mental health symptoms, they could be due to undiagnosed sleep apnea. Our sleep dentists recommend visiting a sleep specialist to determine whether your distressing symptoms originate from sleep apnea.
Treating sleep apnea can help mitigate the symptoms that contribute to worsened mental health. Relieve your symptoms and get the rejuvenating sleep you deserve. Call our Kew Gardens office at (718) 849-9472 or fill out the form at the bottom of this page to schedule your consultation.