Is Your Sleep Apnea Giving You Memory Problems?

Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular disorders, stroke and heart failure, as well as memory problems

Is Your Sleep Apnea Giving You Memory Problems?

Amy Poehler (5-foot-2") and Shaq O'Neal (7-foot-1) see eye-to-eye on one thing: Sleep apnea can create new problems in your life if you don't manage it. Both use a CPAP machine at night to maintain steady breathing and uninterrupted sleep. Amy says the therapy "helps you win at life," and Shaq reports it helps him get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly, improving his energy and helping him manage his weight better.

What they may not know is that taking care of their sleep apnea also protects their brains. A study, slated to be presented virtually at the American Academy of Neurology's 73rd Annual Meeting this April, has found that over half of its 67 participants, average age 73, who had cognitive problems also had sleep apnea — often undiagnosed — and 60% of those folks scored worse on cognitive tests than participants without sleep apnea.


Get checked for sleep apnea if you have the following symptoms (you may have to ask your bed partner):

  • you have loud snoring
  • you stop breathing or gasp for air while sleeping
  • you wake up frequently
  • awaken with a dry mouth
  • have a morning headache and/or are fatigued, irritable and unfocused during the day

Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular disorders, stroke and heart failure, as well as memory problems. For more information, visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website to find a sleep clinic where you can go for an evaluation.

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