Like diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea is one of those chronic health conditions that is really just a starting point for other issues. This condition affects up to 30% of the adult population in the United States, placing them at risk for some serious physical and mental health issues.
In this month’s blog post, Dr. Dana J. Rockey and the teams at South County Sleep Solutions and Prescott Sleep Solutions are going to focus on the mental side of the sleep apnea equation. From anxiety to depression, here’s a look at how sleep apnea is linked to your mental and emotional well-being.
A matter of sleep deprivation
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the soft tissues at the back of your mouth and throat collapse while you sleep, blocking your airways and preventing you from breathing. Each time this happens, your brain wakes you just enough so that you clear your airways again.
If this happened once or twice during the night, we wouldn't be having this discussion. With OSA, however, these airway blockages occur many times each hour, and your brain is constantly rousing you throughout the night.
As a result, you’re not getting the restorative sleep you need, and it’s this sleep deprivation that can lead to mental health issues.
The link between sleep apnea and mental health by the numbers
It’s all well and good for us to tell you that your body relies on good sleep to function well, physically and mentally. And you likely understand this from your own experiences, especially on the physical side — you don’t function well when you’re tired and have daytime sleepiness.
But we want to provide you with some numbers that underscore and confirm the connection between OSA and your mental health. Let’s start with a study that included more than a quarter million people with sleep apnea in the US. Researchers found that sleep apnea increases a person’s odds for having depression by more than 3.11 times and by 3.68 times for anxiety.
The reasons behind these increases are likely twofold: 1) Sleep apnea and lack of sleep can suppress serotonin production; and 2) OSA can lead to an ongoing stress response in your body.
An older study from 2014 backs up these findings — about 54% of participants with OSA had some degree of anxiety and slightly more than 46% had symptoms of depression.
How we can help
If you’re tired of having your mental and physical health hijacked by OSA and its associated sleep deprivation, we can help. We’ve devoted our practices to helping clients to breathe easier and get the sleep they need, improving all areas of their well-being in the process.
There are several different ways we treat sleep apnea, and we’re happy to sit down with you to figure out which one will work best for your circumstances.
To get started, please call us at 949-558-0554 in Newport Beach, California, or 928-235-6925 in Prescott, Arizona.