How Does Sleep Apnea Affect My Health?

At first glance, sleep apnea doesn’t seem like a serious condition. After all, most people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it until they experience mysterious symptoms. However, sleep apnea can still drastically impact your health when it goes untreated. This guide will take you through some of the most important health impacts and why you should meet with a sleep apnea specialist.

High Blood Pressure

Sleep apnea causes high blood pressure because of the increased effort to breathe while sleeping. Apneas cause your body to produce excess adrenaline. This causes the arteries to narrow and constrict, increasing blood pressure. Over time, this can be very taxing on your circulatory system and body as a whole.

Heart Disease

Sleep apnea increases the risk of heart disease by causing the thickening of the walls of your arteries. The lack of oxygen while you sleep can reduce your body’s ability to repair itself naturally. This can cause plaque buildup in your arteries, leading to a stroke or heart attack.

Diabetes Type 2

Sleep apnea contributes to type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin resistance and decreasing glucose tolerance in people with prediabetes or diabetes. The lack of oxygen during sleep can make your body less able to metabolize glucose properly, leading to higher insulin levels in your bloodstream throughout the day. This makes it harder to control your blood sugar levels even when you’re well-rested and eating a healthy diet.

Depression and Anxiety

Sleep apnea has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. People with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely than those without to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. In contrast, people with central sleep apnea may have higher rates of depression than those without sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is also associated with anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks.

Memory Loss and Dementia

Sleep apnea is associated with cognitive impairment and poorer quality of life. This may be due to the effects of poor sleep on memory consolidation and brain function, or it may be that people with sleep apnea are predisposed to poorer cognitive functioning because of other factors such as obesity or hypertension. Either way, sleep apnea is associated with cognitive decline in various forms.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that causes memory loss and other cognitive problems. The first signs of Alzheimer’s may be changes in behavior, such as forgetting names, losing track of dates and times, misplacing things, and becoming more easily confused.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, symptoms become more serious. People affected by Alzheimer’s may have trouble speaking or communicating. Sleep apnea increases your risk for all these problems because it makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. It also affects your ability to think clearly during the day.

COPD and Asthma

Sleep apnea increases your chances of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is because when you stop breathing while sleeping, it causes the muscles in your chest to relax. This relaxation leads to a reduction of airflow through the nose or mouth. Over time, this can lead to permanent damage to the lungs. It doesn’t help that many people with COPD also have asthma, another condition that’s exacerbated by poor sleep quality.


Sleep apnea can affect sperm count and quality in men, making it harder for couples to get pregnant naturally. In women, sleep apnea can affect ovulation, or the release of eggs from the ovaries, which makes it harder for couples to conceive naturally.

Schedule an Appointment

Sleep apnea is a serious, often overlooked condition. If you experience frequent fatigue, trouble breathing while sleeping, dry mouth, or any other symptoms and suspect that you may suffer from sleep apnea, please don’t wait to receive treatment. Call Denver Sleep Apnea Center today for a consultation with Dr. Steven Wilk.

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