Thursday, December 31, 2009

Remember to Treat Sleep Apnea – Your Memory is at Risk

Can’t remember your best friend’s birthday? Keep forgetting the name of your kid’s teacher?

In a recent blog post for Psychology Today, Dr. Dennis Rosen discussed how sleep improves memory and why snoring should not be ignored.

Dr. Rosen explained that sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively affect both memory and learning. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine further supports this claim.

Researchers compared memory performance in 15 adults with moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to that in 20 healthy control subjects.

Each participant took a sleep test. Those with OSA partially or completely stopped breathing almost 20 times per hour. In contrast, the control group experienced an average of 2 pauses in breath per hour.

These pauses happen when the airway collapses. They cause the body to wake up and breathe.

The researchers suspected that the OSA patients’ disrupted sleep patterns would negatively affect memory.

The study participants underwent several memory tests before and after sleeping. The tests included reproducing drawings, remembering a line-drawn path on a map, and recounting details like names and numbers.

In many of the tasks, patients with OSA scored lower than those in the control group. OSA patients had an especially hard time remembering details like names and numbers.

People with OSA also experienced lower-quality REM sleep. REM sleep is necessary for the body to heal itself and prepare for the next day.

Common signs of OSA include snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. If you or someone you know snores, consider visiting an accredited sleep center. OSA is a serious condition that should be treated.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a safe and effective treatment option. Dentists trained in OAT can treat sleep apnea with custom-made oral appliances. These devices reposition the lower jar forward to allow better breathing during sleep.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.