It is becoming more apparent the importance of sleep in the health of our brains. There is evidence that suggests sleep apnea or sleep disruption can increase the risk of developing dementia.
University of Sydney, have published the results of a research study that shows how treating sleep apnea in older adults with mild cognitive impairment could enhance memory; however, it does not affect other aspects of cognition in the short-term.
There is currently no cure or treatment for dementia; the research has been devoted to developing new strategies to slow the progression of dementia. Cognitive impairment that is mild is the point between the anticipated decline in cognitive capacity of normal aging and the more severe decline of dementia.
If there is a mild cognitive impairment, family members and friends may notice changes in cognitive abilities; however, the person can continue to perform daily tasks. Mild cognitive impairment is linked with a higher likelihood of developing dementia over the next few years.
Researchers believe that now is the ideal time to act to stop the development of a dementia diagnosis. Finding innovative ways to slow the decline of cognitive function for people with slight cognitive deficits is vital.
What is the importance of sleep for mental health?
Sleep improves the ability of our brains to consolidate and stabilize new information and memories. These processes may occur throughout the various phases of sleep, including the deep stage (also called stage 3 or restorative sleep), being the most important.
We have also discovered that the lymphatic system, also known as the waste management system in the brain, is extremely active at night, especially in a deep sleep. This allows the waste products, such as toxins that our brains accumulate throughout the day, to be flushed out.
The brain is awash with toxic substances, including beta-amyloid, which is one of the most important proteins involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep disturbances can disrupt the process of cleaning and result in the accumulation of beta-amyloid within the brain…
The crucial role played by sleep in these crucial processes is the reason for inquiry into the question of whether sleep disturbances are a factor, including sleep disorders. It is possible that it could be linked to changes in our cognition as we age. There is also a link to the progression of dementia.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can cause problems for one billion individuals around the world. It is estimated that in UAE, 5-10% of adults suffer from the condition. The throat (also known as the throat, also known as the upper airway) closes entirely (an airway obstruction) or only partially (a hypopnea) in the course of sleep.
These obstructions or closures could vary from ten seconds to a minute and may cause a decrease in blood levels of oxygen. When breathing is reestablished, the person will experience a brief awakening without the person being aware.
For those suffering from sleep apnea that is severe, this cycle could occur thirty times or even more in an hour, which can cause very sluggish sleep. Sleep apnea sufferers may sleep in a snore-like state and toss and turn, and other people may observe them stop breathing, choke, and gasp to breathe in sleep. Repeated interruptions to sleep can lead to sleepiness and decreased alertness throughout the day, which for certain people, can lead to difficulties in completing tasks.
Do sleep apnea disorders cause an increase in the risk of developing dementia?
The fragmentation of sleep, along with the decrease in blood oxygen levels during the night, can be two factors that increase the risk of dementia. Studies have found sleep apnea can be linked with the 26 percent growth in the development of cognitive impairment in addition to more beta-amyloid in the brain. But, it’s not yet clear whether treating sleep apnea can lower the risk of this.
The most effective solution for sleeping apnea treatment is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy, often referred to as CPAP, where an airway mask attached to a pump continuously blows air through the upper airway while keeping it open. If the machine is employed, it blocks an airway closing. It is unclear if treatment for sleep apnea reduces the risk of developing dementia. The new study, however, suggests that CPAP can be beneficial for memory in the short term.
Our research aimed at determining whether treating older adults who suffer from sleep apnea, as well as mild cognitive impairment, might increase memory and thinking skills in the short term.
The trial evaluated the effect of CPAP treatment on thinking and memory skills as compared to the absence of treatment. It was a cross-over study, which means all participants received CPAP as well as no therapy throughout the trial, however, at different dates. Certain participants had CPAP initially and then switched.
Others did not receive treatment at first before switching. The trained staff assisted participants in getting comfortable with the therapy, and after three months, the participants were tested on several cognitive tests.
The researchers discovered that when in comparison to not treating sleep apnea or CPAP, thinking skills did not improve with CPAP; however, some improvements in memory were noted. This suggests that treating sleeping apnea might increase outcomes in the short term; however, it is not clear whether it will have an effect on the decline in cognitive capacity over time.
A previous study indicated that CPAP might slow the progression of cognitive impairment over the course of a year for people with moderate mental decline as well as sleep apnea. However, studies with a longer duration are required before we can establish what the long-term consequences are like.