The Effects of Sleep Apnea on the Body

Dr. Dan JensenOverall Health, Sleep Apnea

The Effects of Sleep Apnea on the Body
Dr. Dan Jensen

Have you been struggling to sleep at night, or do you wake up in the morning feeling like you haven’t slept at all? At Sound Sleep Medical we know all about the toll sleep apnea takes on your body and on your health.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disturbance that hinders you from getting a proper night’s sleep. With sleep apnea, the muscles in your throat relax so much that your airway becomes blocked. Your breathing actually stops for several seconds while you’re sleeping, and this can happen multiple times an hour. Your brain wakes you up many times a night to restart the breath. You may not remember being awake throughout the night, but all these sleep disturbances disrupt your sleep cycles, and even if you’re in bed for 8 or 9 hours, you’ll feel exhausted during the day.

How Sleep Apnea Effects the Body

Fatigue: If you suffer from sleep apnea, your body is affected in many ways. The most obvious is sleepiness, and you’ll feel drowsy, tired, and fatigued throughout the day, regardless of how many hours you spent in bed the night before. You will often wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat in the morning, and are more likely to suffer from a headache, have trouble concentrating, or find that you’re more irritable than usual.

Heart Disease: There are a number of long-term health risks associated with sleep apnea, since your body needs sleep in order to function properly. Sleep apnea has been linked to worse heart health, including high blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat such as atrial fibrillation. With this added strain on your heart, you’re more likely to experience a stroke or heart attack. High cholesterol levels linked to sleep apnea also increase your risk of heart disease.

Diabetes: If you’re living with sleep apnea, you’re more likely to develop an insulin resistance, and your blood sugar levels rise. You’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and treating diabetes can be problematic since your cells won’t respond well to insulin treatments. Since your body lacks proper sleep and rest, your diabetes will be much harder to regulate and manage. Sleep apnea is also linked with obesity, and is associated with all the negative health effects of being overweight.

Brain Health: Sleep apnea affects your brain in profound ways, and one of the first things you’ll notice is changes in your memory. Proper sleep helps us consolidate and store memories, and without adequate rest, you’re likely to experience memory loss. Sleep apnea often makes you feel like your mind is foggy, and you’ll score much lower on cognitive ability tests. It will be difficult to problem solve or think clearly. Not only that, but people with sleep apnea are at a much higher risk of developing depression.

Acid reflux: If you have sleep apnea, you’re more likely to experience acid reflux, and sleep apnea can also increase heartburn.

Asthma: Since sleep apnea affects your respiration, it’s not surprising that you might experience asthma or other respiratory problems. Sleep apnea will negatively affect any respiratory problems you might have, and will worsen asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even during daytime hours, you may find yourself more likely to be out of breath or experience trouble breathing.

Liver: Sleep apnea has been linked to increases in fatty liver disease, high levels of liver enzymes, and liver scarring, all of which contribute to the malfunctioning of the liver.

Immune System: Untreated sleep apnea begins to chip away at your body, and the longer you go without getting adequate rest, the worse your overall health will become. People who have been living with sleep apnea a long time have a weakened immune system, and are at a much higher risk of illness or infection.  

Treating Sleep Apnea

Living with sleep apnea can affect the body in many ways, but treating sleep apnea can help you wake up each morning feeling refreshed, and give you back the ability to lead a healthy life. Our most successful treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine which keeps your airways open at night, so you can sleep soundly without waking up. To find out more about sleep apnea and the effects it’s having on your body, visit us at Sound Sleep Medical today.