Sleeping is a big issue for a number of people all around the world and sleep apnoea is something that ruins the quality of sleep – something we struggle with time to time in our household.
We were reading about a recent study in the US by scientists in a research project around Alzheimer’s disease that focused on a group of people who experienced sleep apnoea. This is defined as a condition where muscles around the throat block airways when relaxed – hindering breathing.
Apnoea causes people to snore loudly and wake up in the night repeatedly. The research checked results from a medical database of 2,400 people over the age of 55.
The researchers found that people with this condition were also more likely to report memory loss and had trouble thinking clearly compared with others in their age bracket. The concept proposed was that perhaps oxygen may not have been getting to the brain adequately and was therefore causing these cognitive problems.
A portion of the patients who received treatment via a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) reported no such symptoms – probably because the airways are kept open and there is a constant supply of oxygen to the brain.
Dr Simon Ridley from of Alzheimer’s Research UK, was reported to say in reference to the paper: “This adds to growing evidence that disrupted breathing during sleep could be a risk factor for memory and thinking decline in older age but it doesn’t prove one causes the other. A good supply of oxygen to the brain is vital to keep it healthy, and it is interesting to see that treatment of sleep apnoea was associated with a trend towards later memory and thinking problems.”
A larger study is now underway to explore the hypothesis that CPAP machines are indeed making the difference and preventing people from suffering from induced memory loss. The elderly commonly have issues with sleep and cognitive ability so this is an area that requires much more research for definitive answers on any treatments that can help.
We have recently invested in some CPAP machines and they definitely seem to be working, and our quality of sleep is much better. It is interesting to see more added benefit from these machines too.