Your Brain and Sleep Apnea

Saturday, February 13th, 2016, 10:39 pm

Sleep apnea extracts a heavy toll on many body systems including the brain. Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea report poor memory, difficulty making decisions, depression, stress and poor concentration.

New research from the UCLA School of Nursing showed that people with sleep apnea show changes in the levels of two brain chemicals which may hold the key to these symptoms. The researchers looked at the levels of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in an area of the brain called the insula. This area regulates emotion, thinking and physical functions such as blood pressure and sweating.

Patients with sleep apnea showed decreased levels of GABA and high levels of glutamate. GABA affects mood and helps make endorphins, feel good chemicals, which help keep people calm. Glutamate acts in an opposite manner. High glutamate levels mean the brain is in a state of stress and doesn’t function as effectively. High levels can be toxic to nerves and neurons.

Researchers were surprised to see the drop in GABA but say the study results are encouraging. “In contrast with damage, if something is working differently, we can potentially fix it,” said Paul Macey, lead researcher. Future studies are planned to see if treating sleep apnea can return these brain chemicals to their normal levels.

An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and about 80% of patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. If you experience loud snoring, weight gain, excessive daytime sleepiness, or have a large neck size or have been told you gasp or stop breathing while sleeping you may have obstructive sleep apnea.

Treatment is as simple as wearing a custom oral device that gently places the jaw in forward position which keeps the airway open at night. No masks, no tubes and no machine are necessary. Find out more about treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

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Category: CPAP device, sleep apnea

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