What Are the Long-Term Effects of Sleep Apnea?
Everyone knows that sleep is important – and who doesn’t love to sleep – but do you know just how important it is for your long-term health? If you suffer from sleep apnea, you are one of 18 million Americans affected by the disorder. While it’s a very common affliction, a lot of people who suffer from it do not get the adequate care that they need, which could lead to long-term health issues.
For those who may not know, sleep apnea is a disorder that affects your breathing while sleeping so that your breaths become shallow for short periods of time. Sometimes these pauses occur hundreds of times during the night, which can jolt you awake and disrupt your sleep rhythm. If you’ve ever had a bad night’s sleep, you know how off you can feel the next day. Beyond affecting your performance at work or in school, sleep apnea can cause a host of problems in the long-term that can be severe.
Weakened Immune System
While you’re not sleeping, your body doesn’t have a chance to repair cells, balance your hormones, regulate your insulin, and do many other things that leave you with a weaker immune system.
Lack of sleep can adversely affect your brain because it doesn’t give it a chance to rest. It also doesn’t have a chance to perform such vital functions as strengthen your attention and memory, stabilize your mood, improve problem-solving skills, and even facilitate creativity and learning. Without giving your brain a chance to do the things it’s supposed to, your mental health could suffer.
When you don’t get the sleep you need, it shows. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror the morning after a night of restless sleep, you know what we mean. With sleep apnea, that continuous bad night’s sleep can put a lot of stress on the body and lead to premature aging.
Heart Disease & Stroke
Your body also balances hormones tied to hunger and satiety. Without sleep, you might have a larger appetite which could lead to significant weight gain that can increase your risk of heart disease. Evidence also suggests that people who suffer from sleep apnea are twice as likely to have a stroke than those who don’t have the disorder.