Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is associated with many severe health conditions that can shorten your lifespan. Some of the health issues commonly linked include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Loss of short-term memory
- Sexual dysfunction
When your brain senses your oxygen supply is low, it tells your heart to work faster. This leads to high blood pressure at night and eventually interferes with your body’s ability to regulate the sympathetic nervous system, triggering elevated blood pressure throughout the day. It also hurts the heart, causing heart disease and, eventually, heart failure. High blood pressure can dislodge plaque in the arteries, leading to stroke.
At night, your brain performs essential tasks for regulating your body’s energy consumption and storage. Sleep apnea interferes with them, causing your body to store more fat, which contributes to obesity and makes your body immune to insulin, causing type 2 diabetes.
Many people who have what is known as “maintenance insomnia”–waking up at night–have sleep apnea. Whether you’re aware of waking up or not, losing sleep significantly impairs your brain’s ability to function correctly. You may become prone to depression and other mood disorders. People also have an elevated risk of suicide. You may lose short-term memory and may lose interest in sex or other things you previously enjoyed.
The link with cancer is more tenuous. Some studies show a strong link, while other studies show little connection between cancer. However, it is likely that a body weakened by sleep apnea may have difficulty fighting cancer and may have additional risks related to the demanding treatments cancer requires.