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    A Study on the Link Between Sleep Apnea and Dementia, and the Methods for Treating the Sleep Disorder

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    Snoring is a common problem that many individuals disregard as, “normal”. However, recent studies have shown some shocking information about snoring and what it could mean for a person’s health. Based on new medical observations made during a number of sleep study cases, more mental related issues have been discovered. Although it may seem harmless,”snoring at night doesn’t just drive your partner crazy-it might signal a serious problem for your brain” (Christa Sgobba). In the past, brain damage and mental issues were not considered possible reasons for snoring. Because snoring is so widely recognized as a “normal” bodily function, many individuals disregard this sleep interrupting noise.

    Oxygen deprivation of the brain is not always caused voluntarily. Initially, sleep apnea proved that an individual can actually stop breathing while asleep. That fact standing alone by itself caused alarm for many individuals who suffer from snoring and sleep apnea. Now, another problem has been brought to attention by “people who reported higher levels of sleepiness during the day were also more likely to show problems with attention and concentration” (Christa Sgobba). Sleep apnea could potentially be a contributing factor for the progression of specific mental disorders. One mental disorder in particular, known as dementia, has recently been linked to sleep apnea. To further understand how dementia could be caused by sleep apnea, the actual condition of sleep apnea must be focused on.

    Sleep apnea, or “snoring”, is a health condition that has been around for as long as human beings have been on this earth. Sleep apnea is commonly regarded to as a joke by the main stream media. Public opinion has also rendered this condition as unimportant or not worthy of much concern. By definition, “sleep apnea—which is often marked by snoring, morning headache, and daytime sleepiness—has previously been linked to poorer brain function. One reason? The lack of oxygen while you sleep may lead to damage in the blood vessels in your brain” (Christa Sgobba). Even with that fact being public knowledge, there is still much disregard for this health condition.

    One factor that might influence the decisions that the public make regarding sleep apnea would be the unawareness of the serious nature of this health condition. Snoring has been around for so long that it pre-dates the term “sleep-apnea”. Today, medical professionals believe that “it’s possible that people with the genetic trait are more susceptible to the brain-damaging effects of loss of oxygen seen in sleep apnea, which may be why the sleep-disordered breathing condition can be more harmful for people who carry it” (Christa Sgobba). After discovering this fact, a new possibility for sleep-apnea and its ability to cause dementia has been generated. This possibility would be the potential of sleep-apnea being the leading cause for dementias heredity nature.

    Among the individuals that construct the non-medical society, not much is known about how sleep apnea can affect an individual. With all of the potential issues that can occur in the human body, snoring appears to be the least harmful. This is perhaps the biggest reason for why individuals ignore this issue so much. Sleep apnea can be harmful because, “the changing oxygen levels may spark inflammation, possibly resulting in nerve cell loss in certain areas of your brain, which can lead to cognitive deficits” (Christa Sgobba). Dementia is a medical condition that slowly eradicates the healthy brain cells of an individual. As time progresses, the individual with dementia remembers less information than the previous day. There is a strong correlation between progressive sleep apnea and progressive dementia.

    Sleep apnea also disrupts healthy brain function during an individual’s sleep schedule. This is because “missing out on enough REM sleep could mean that the brain’s glymphatic system – a kind of nocturnal cleanup squad doesn’t have enough time to clear away the protein that turns into the problematic plaque” (Megan Hogan). Sleeping with sleep apnea can be more damaging than going several days without sleep. A recent study focused around two individuals and their sleeping habits was conducted to prove the difference between a person with sleep apnea and a person with normal sleeping habits.

    The study showed that “both cognitively normal individuals and those with mild cognitive decline, researchers found the same result: that beta-amyloid accumulated faster in subjects with sleep-disordered breathing than in a control group without it” (Megan Hogan). If sleep apnea is genetic, then it may be responsible for the genetic spread of dementia. Sleep apnea also restricts blood to the brain, which is the responsible cause for the nerve damage of the brain. This same form of nerve damage can be seen in dementia patients.

    Initially, snoring was an aspect of life that a majority of the human population just chose to ignore. However, there are a quite a few treatment options for snoring. These options were created for the purpose of eliminating the loud noises associated with sleep apnea. One of these treatments “is often done with a CPAP machine, which helps force your airway open and allows oxygen in” (Christa Sgobba). With oxygen entering the brain, the patient who receives treatment from a CPAP machine will have a stronger chance at successfully preventing dementia.

    As far as machines go, there are much more effective tools that concern proper brain function. With an accurate brain scan, an individual who suffers from sleep apnea can get a proper reading about how much their brain power they actually have. Recent studies show that “brain scans are also a highly effective way to find out if you, or a loved one, might be suffering from the disease, even in its early stages” (Megan Hogan). When it comes to mental disorders, especially dementia, time is of the essence. Time is a major factor for dementia patients because this mental health condition can always be worsened by neglect.

    Another method for treating sleep apnea and dementia would be getting one’s cerebral spinal fluid tested. In fact, “analyzing cerebral spinal fluid obtained with a lumbar puncture can also test for the disease, but that procedure is used far more commonly in Europe than in the United States” (Maria Carrillo). Overall, sleep apnea is not a condition that should be taken lightly.

    Sleep apnea is extremely common and even more disregarded that people realize. With dementia on the incline, there is a major shift in how medical professionals handle mental conditions. More recently, scientists have discovered a dangerous link between dementia and sleep apnea. In fact, “Sleep apnea actually accelerated the movement into mild cognitive impairment diagnosis for individuals who had been cognitively healthy just a few years prior” (Maria Carrillo). Dementia reacts relatively fast when compared to the life expectancy of a human being.

    Each night, a patient with sleep apnea grows closer to total memory loss as well as the loss of some cognitive functions. With the strong correlation between sleep apnea and dementia being so present, a mentally strong patient with sleep apnea and a family history of dementia should not waste much time. As more studies are developed, “experts say the relationship indicates that treating sleep apnea could slow the progression for those in the early stages of the as-yet-incurable disease” (Maria Carrillo). As another night passes, an individual who has sleep apnea, but is unaware that they have sleep apnea, is put at risk for dementia. If aperson is aware of their “snoring”, it would benefit that person to consult with their primary care physician.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    A Study on the Link Between Sleep Apnea and Dementia, and the Methods for Treating the Sleep Disorder. (2023, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/a-study-on-the-link-between-sleep-apnea-and-dementia-and-the-methods-for-treating-the-sleep-disorder/

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