People with apnea, whose breathing is interrupted for short periods of time during sleep, have obvious problems with memories. And this is just the beginning.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is the so-called complicated snoring. During apnea, during a night’s sleep, a person breath stops for a few tens of seconds. There may be several hundred such episodes during the night. This causes severe oxygen deprivation and, as a result, seriously damages health.
According to statistics, more than 930 million people suffer from apnea. Studying the effects of the disease on the body, scientists from Australia found that apnea significantly worsens the autobiographical memory – long or short-term, according to the website of the Royal Melbourne University of Technology.
Scientists suggest that apnea weakens the ability of the brain to encode and combine certain types of memories, which in turn impairs memory.
The study involved 44 patients with apnea and 44 healthy people who recalled various episodes of their lives from childhood, early adulthood and the recent past. The results showed that in the first group such memories were only in 18.9%, and among healthy ones in 53.3%.
Brain scans confirmed these findings, says lead author Melinda Jackson: “Patients with apnea lose a lot of gray matter in areas that are associated with autobiographical memory.”
It is known that the apnea syndrome significantly increases the risk of depression, but the exact provoking mechanisms are still unknown to scientists. The authors hope that a deeper understanding of the neurobiological causes will improve the mental health of millions of people.
When a person has apnea, the night rest is seriously disturbed: his sleep is intermittent and shallow. Such patients are considered to be at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study by American scientists confirms this: a violation of the deep phases of sleep is associated with the disease.