A Cleveland Clinic news report examines a study that found a link between abnormal breathing patterns during sleep and cognitive decline at an early age.
Sleep apnea — a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep — may be doing more than affecting the quality of your sleep and making you tired.
A recent study finds a link between abnormal breathing patterns during sleep – like heavy snoring and apnea – and cognitive decline at an earlier age than normal.
Researchers from New York University studied data from nearly 2,500 people between the ages of 55 and 90 who had Alzheimer’s disease. They found those with breathing problems were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment an average of 10 years earlier than people without sleep breathing problems.
More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The word apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least 10 seconds. About half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea, in which the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe.
“The investigators found that people who had sleep-disordered breathing had an earlier onset of mild cognitive impairment compared to people who did not have sleep-disordered breathing,” Cleveland Clinic sleep specialist Harneet Walia, MD, says.