Snoring is more than just an unpleasant sound that interferes with your sleep and keeps your partner up at night. More importantly, it can have a negative impact on your overall health – both mental and physical. A recent study published in the journal Neurology links heavy snoring with early memory loss.
Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center studied approximately 2,500 adults aged 55 to 90, reports CBS News. They found that people with sleep apnea – a sleep disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing and heavy snoring – regressed from normal brain function to mild cognitive impairment an average of 10 years earlier than those who didn’t have sleep apnea.
Now, this is obviously scary news for the estimated 25% of the U.S. adult population who have sleep apnea – many of whom are undiagnosed – but as is the case with many health conditions linked with sleep apnea, proper treatment of this disorder can reduce the risk.
Dr. Carol Ash, director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health, told CBS News about the positive effects of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy in particular.
“When you have a patient who truly has this problem, [CPAP therapy] can change and save their life,” said Dr. Ash. “You have to coax them through and get them comfortable, but once they’re using it, they won’t go back.”
That’s a pretty bold statement: CPAP therapy can change and save people’s lives. Of course, it makes a lot of sense when you think about all the serious health issues linked with untreated sleep apnea, such as heart disease and stroke.
Ultimately, the NYU researchers found that individuals who took the proper steps toward treating their sleep apnea and alleviating their snoring were able to delay memory loss so that the age of onset was about the same as those who didn’t have sleep apnea.
Your memory is a precious thing, so don’t let something like sleep apnea take it away from you. If you experience any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.