July 28, 2023 from Medscape
We’ve all heard about the importance of a good night’s sleep, but did you know that snoring, or more specifically, obstructed breathing caused by sleep apnea, can significantly impact your brain health? Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Paris-Cité, Paris, France have made a compelling connection between snoring, deep sleep, and brain health.
Sleep is essential for our physical and mental well-being. It’s during deep sleep that our bodies repair, rejuvenate, and consolidate memories. However, loud snoring and obstructed breathing, often caused by sleep apnea, can disrupt this crucial phase of sleep. The consequences of this disruption are alarming, as they can lead to an increased risk of exhibiting signs of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or overall cognitive decline.
Researchers have identified white matter hyperintensities as critical biomarkers that indicate brain health. These tiny lesions on the brain tend to become more prevalent as individuals age or as a result of uncontrolled high blood pressure. They are associated with cognitive decline and various neurological conditions.
The study conducted by the University of Paris-Cité found that participants with severe sleep apnea had significantly more white matter hyperintensities than those with mild or moderate conditions. This suggests a clear association between the severity of sleep apnea and the deterioration of brain health.
But that’s not all. The research also revealed that severe sleep apnea was linked to a decrease in the integrity of axons, the long, thread-like part of nerve cells responsible for transmitting signals. Reduced axon integrity can disrupt the communication between nerve cells, leading to cognitive problems. In essence, this decrease in axon integrity makes the brain appear older.
The most alarming finding from the study is that for every 10% decrease in deep sleep, the white matter hyperintensities increased, equivalent to the brain aging by 2.3 years. Similarly, the same 10% reduction in deep sleep was associated with a decrease in axon integrity, which had an aging effect of making the brain appear 3 years older.
Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs) can play a pivotal role in evaluating the impact of sleep-related issues on an individual’s health. IMEs provide an objective and comprehensive assessment of a person’s condition, offering valuable insights into the potential effects of snoring and sleep apnea on their brain health.
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