Often a person can gage how badly they are snoring by the number of bruises they have in the morning from their spouse kicking them.   Many people who have significant sleep apnea report they sleep soundly and have no issues so clearly they are fine, right?    Just wait… if the downstream issues aren’t present now then they are coming….   READ ON to learn what undiagnosed sleep apnea is causing including new data that it is causing brain inflammation!

Sleep apnea is more than keeping your spouse awake.  It is an underlying cause of many medical issues that can be PREVENTED by addressing the underlying cause – breathing at night!

The old stigma of only overweight people have sleep apnea is completely false!  I have seen some of the skinniest men and WOMEN have the worse sleep apnea!  Several culprits are possibilities:

  1. Structural – many people especially men can have very thick necks and when they lay down they get compression on the airway. However, even thin men and women can have the tongue slip back creating obstruction causing sleep apnea.  Large tongues and sometimes simply anatomy lends itself to this happening.
  2. Weight – yes very overweight people clearly can cause obstruction simply because of pressure on the airway
  3. Signal issue – this gets interesting. Turns out people can simply have an impairment in the ability for the signal that says “breathe” go awry.  COVID has really added to the problem as it is changing a lot about the sleep cycle and contributing to some unusual sleep apnea issues even if you have already been diagnosed and using a CPAP!!  Central apnea is a real issue that has been shown to cause significant apnea especially in women!
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Here are my top symptoms that might indicate you have sleep apnea:

  1. Snoring – duh! Especially if you have bruises in the morning from your spouse!
  2. Keep waking up all night long even if you think it is just to go to the bathroom
  3. Waking up startled or gasping
  4. High blood pressure – sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure if not treated
  5. Diabetes – sleep apnea can lead to blood sugar dysregulation causing diabetes
  6. Difficult losing weight – yep. If you have untreated sleep apnea you will have trouble losing weight!
  7. Fatigue – waking up fatigued or excessive fatigue during the day. Lots’ of other causes of this but sleep apnea is one of them.

Adding to the list of conditions sleep apnea contributes to including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes we can include brain changes.  Studies are showing an increased in white matter changes on MRI which is indicated of brain damage/inflammation with untreated sleep apnea.  They are not sure if this is the downstream effect of blood sugar dysregulation or high blood pressure but the studies show a clear decline in brain tissue translating into dementia/alzheimers etc. Do you seriously want to ignore this any more?

Don’t be stubborn and refuse to see a sleep doctor.  Most of the time they do an at home sleep study test and the machines have become more sophisticated.  There are even surgeries and an upcoming new medication treatment for sleep apnea on the horizon.  This is a HUGE area of prevention that can really change your trajectory of aging.  Don’t ignore it!!  Trust me.  Your spouse will really appreciate you getting this addressed!

To your health,

Laura