We all know how important getting enough sleep is. However, if you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you could sleep for more than eight hours and wake up and still not feel refreshed. Many people don’t realize that, along with not getting a restful night’s sleep, there are health risks associated with sleep apnea.

OSA is a sleep disorder that occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat cannot keep your airways open while you sleep. When your airways close, your brain wakes you to reopen your airway. This process can happen thirty or more times in one hour, preventing you from getting deep, restful sleep.

While getting enough sleep is important, getting quality sleep is just as important. Not getting adequate sleep can lead to an increased risk of health problems. This article will discuss the top ten health risks of sleep apnea.

#1. Harmful to Your Heart Health

Heart conditions such as heart failure, heart attacks, and irregular heartbeat have been linked to sleep apnea. Your heart rate drops when you have sleep apnea, and you stop breathing while sleeping. When you wake up to breathe, your heart rate increases which spikes your blood pressure.

The oxygen in your blood is also reduced because of sleep apnea. That means your vital organs are receiving a limited oxygen supply. The oxygen reduction can also increase chemicals that cause inflammation in your blood, leading to heart and blood vessel damage.

#2. Increase Risk of Stroke

Although researchers aren’t sure if sleep apnea causes a stroke or vice versa, they caution that one can lead to the other. A study published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease showed that sleep-disordered breathing (including sleep apnea) appears to increase the risk of stroke and that people who have experienced a stroke tend to have sleep-disordered breathing.

The research also showed that stroke and sleep apnea share many risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. And sleep apnea is associated with irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, all of which are risk factors for stroke.

#3. Weight Gain

People who are obese are more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea, and if you have sleep apnea, you are at an increased risk of gaining weight. The reason for this correlation is that fat often accumulates in the neck area when you gain weight, which can obstruct your breathing.

And when you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t produce enough leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite. Without sufficient sleep, your activity levels are likely to decrease, which can lead to weight gain. Losing as little as 10% of your body weight can reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.

#4. High Blood Pressure

When your oxygen levels fall when you stop breathing, your body increases adrenaline causing your heart to pump harder and your blood vessels to constrict. This increases oxygen to your heart and brain but also intermittently causes an increase in blood pressure, putting more stress on your cardiovascular system and raising your risk of hypertension.

#5. Type 2 Diabetes

Deep sleep is believed to be an important process for your body to regulate glucose. Because sleep apnea keeps you from getting sufficient deep sleep, it interferes with your body’s ability to regulate and metabolize glucose. This increases your risk of insulin resistance and developing type 2 diabetes. 

#6. Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is the name used for a group of risk factors that increase your risk of cardiovascular problems. You have metabolic syndrome if you have three of the risk factors listed below.

  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Excess fat in the stomach area or an increased waist size
  • High fasting blood sugar

#7. Effects on Your Brain

We’ve all likely experienced the cognitive effects of a lack of sleep; decreased concentration, a limited attention span, poor memory, and even impaired motor skills. People with sleep apnea also tend to wake up with headaches due to the lack of oxygen to the brain.

#8. Depression and Anxiety

OSA has been associated with depression. A 2016 study found that 15.5% of participants experienced mild depression, and 6% experienced major depression. Obesity, low physical activity, insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and using sleep medications were all related to depression.

#9. Glaucoma

While they don’t fully understand how, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has reported that sleep apnea can increase your risk of glaucoma. This eye disease can lead to vision loss. As with other health risks, they believe it is related to the lack of oxygen in the blood.

#10. Accidents

One of the most common symptoms people with OSA experience is excessive daytime drowsiness. That drowsiness can lead people to fall asleep at the wheel or experience microsleep, where they sleep for a brief moment, not even realizing they’ve fallen asleep.

Let DreamZz Sleep Center Help You Get Sleep and Stay Healthy

If you think you have sleep apnea, it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will likely recommend polysomnography. If you already have a diagnosis and are still experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor, you may need a new treatment plan. Sleep apnea can be treated to reduce the risk of related health risks.

At DreamZz Sleep Center, we want to make sure you get a diagnosis quickly so that you can start treatment as soon as possible. Unlike other sleep facilities with waiting lists of 3-4 months long, we guarantee a consultation and sleep study within one to two weeks of your initial call. That means treatment can start in less than a month!

Contact us today to book your appointment.