Are you feeling constantly tired, forgetful, fuzzy-headed -- and your partner is complaining that your snoring is keeping them awake at night? You may be experiencing 'brain fog' as a result of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder which affects your ability to have an uninterrupted night's sleep.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a term used to describe a range of cognitive problems that interfere with the ability to think effectively and clearly. This hazy thinking is often accompanied by difficulties in concentrating, memory problems and difficulty in controlling emotions.
Brain fog can slow your thinking and affect your reaction times which can have serious implications for ability to function during the day. It can also have serious repercussions for your health and safety.
Your confidence and self-esteem may be affected, too. There are a variety of reasons why you may be experiencing 'fogginess'.
Certain medications and drugs, hormonal changes, stress and diet can interfere in the cognitive processes of the brain. However, lack of quality sleep is also a major factor and should be investigated.
Can Sleep Apnea Cause Brain Fog?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder. Key symptoms are the loud snoring and gasping sounds during sleep. This is because the person's airways relax, then become blocked and the body needs to wake itself up in order to resume breathing. This repetitive cycle of stop-start breathing means that sleep is constantly interrupted.
Often it is the person's partner who notices the symptoms first. Untreated sleep apnea can also lead to a range of other health issues such as depression and cardiovascular issues. It can raise blood pressure, cause heartburn and has been linked with heart failure.
A person with sleep apnea is likely to experience daytime sleepiness and brain fog. This is hardly surprising when you consider that the brain is not receiving enough oxygen during the night and the person is not getting enough quality sleep.
Good quality sleep is more important than most people realize. Sleep allows the body to rest, repair and rejuvenate itself and this includes carrying out important bodily functions such as clearing the brain's pathways.
The body's careful chemical balance can become impaired when sleep is continually disrupted. In severe cases of this sleep disorder, studies of participants' brain scans indicated extensive damage to both gray and white brain matter. Gray matter is vital for the brain's processing functions like thinking and memory.
White matter connects the important regions together and allows messages to transfer quickly and efficiently between areas rather like a subway system.
Can Treatments for Sleep Apnea Reduce Brain Fog?
One of the most effective and common treatments for this sleep disorder is CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It involves a small machine that uses a supply of air pressure to keep your airways open and the body supplied with oxygen while you sleep. The air is delivered to the face by a tube connected to a mask.
Studies show that CPAP therapy can have some remarkable results. Not only is CPAP effective as a therapy for the sleep disorder, enabling people to breathe properly while they sleep, studies have shown dramatic improvements to gray matter damage in just three months.
Studies in 2011 and 2014 looked at the brain scans of people who suffered from sleep apnea. Subjects' white matter was analyzed in brain scans too and damage was completely reversed in twelve months.
The men in these studies benefitted from clearer thinking, better mood control, memory and attention, and their scores in cognitive tests improved. Naturally, their quality of life improved too. These impressive results indicate that CPAP therapy may restore brain matter density and be part of an effective treatment for brain fog too.
Never underestimate the effects of sleep apnea. Constant sleep deprivation and disruption of oxygen supplies to the brain has a cumulative effect on the whole body and your quality of life.
When it affects your thinking, emotions and decision-making, it can have serious repercussions for your relationships, mental health, self-esteem and work too. It can be treated, but the first step is to discuss your symptoms with your doctor so that they can diagnose the condition and provide the appropriate treatment.
For more information about this sleep disorder, CPAP treatment and brain fog, read the full articles here: