Sleep Related

What’s The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Brain Fog?

sleep apnea brain fog

Do you suffer from sleep apnea? Then you probably feel tired throughout the day. Not getting the correct sleep at night, is a sure fire way to feeling horrible during the day. What is the cause between sleep apnea and brain fog? And if you treat the sleep apnea, will the tired feeling in your brain go away? In today’s article will discuss the link between brain fog and sleep apnea…

If sleep apnea would only affect your nights, it will be slightly more handable. But since this condition affects your entire life. Every waking moment is affected by your sleep apnea. For that reason it’s important to attend the root cause of this. Luckily, these days there are many treatments for sleep apnea. Either lifestyle changes, or medical interventions can do wonders for you. But will they work if you’re feeling awful throughout the day because your brain doesn’t seem to function as before?

Can sleep apnea cause brain fog?

Dr Steven Park rides on his website that there are 5 areas get damaged in your brain because of obstructive sleep apnea:

  1. Right insular cortex
  2. Ventrolateral medulla
  3. Cerebellum
  4. Hippocampus
  5. Mammary bodies

(For more information what each of these areas exactly does, see Dr. Parks website)

These parts of your brain have important functions. And it is no wonder that if a part of your brain is damaged, that you think less clear. Another common complaint of people with sleep apnea is memory loss. The Hippocampus in your brain is responsible for short and long-term memories. And if it’s damaged, it will have a profound influence on your mental landscape.

Here’s what Dr Park says about the hippocampus and sleep apnea:

“The hippocampus is found to be significantly smaller in people with obstructive sleep apnea. This area of the brain processes short and long-term memory and spatial navigation. One study found that hippocampal damage can be partially reversed after a period of CPAP. The hippocampus is also one of the first areas to be damaged in Alzheimer’s disease.”

Other symptoms of brain fog are:

  • Memory problems
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to focus

Other causes (apart from sleep apnea) of brain fog are:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hormonal changes
  • Diet
  • Medications
  • Medical conditions

Why is there a link?

It’s estimated that around 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. And 80% of these cases go undiagnosed. The reason for that might be that people attribute the lack of (mental) energy and bad sleep to ‘just getting older’…

Now, sleep apnea blocks the airways from getting enough oxygen at night. This affects your entire body – but your brain gets a double attack:

  • Lack of oxygen
  • Lack of restorative sleep

Everytime your airways are blocked, you will wake up (sometimes even barely noticable). And this will take you out of your deep restorative sleep.

Oxygen is essential to life. And if you deprive your brain for a long period of time every night in small bouts, then some parts are going to get damaged.

Also, sleep is a restorative mechanism in the brain and clears up all the waste molecules that form throughout the day.

So the worse your sleep apnea is, the more your brain is affected. When it works less well, then your thinking won’t be as clear. Your brain literally is damaged, and that explains the link between sleep apnea and brain fog.

If you treat your apnea – will the brain fog go away?

Look, the most common question from people after they read this is if they treat their sleep apnea, will the brain fog go away? Now, this is a great question. And a very important one. Luckily, research has shown that with treatment, many of the damages can be reversed.

However, this depends on how long you have been affected by sleep apnea, and how severe it was.

We’re lucky in the fact that the brain is a remarkable structure, that is capable of healing many things. If you give your brain the sleep and oxygen at night that it needs to function normally, chances are that you will feel a lot better over time.

With that said, if you are seriously worried about your apnea: I’m not a doctor, and if you suffer from sleep apnea, I highly recommend you go see a professional.

Success stories from others

Here are some success stories between sleep apnea and brain fog from Dr Steven Parks site.

“Judith is a 55 year old woman who used to have a sharp memory, but now is having trouble with names and losing her keys all the time. Things got much worse when she gained more weight, which worsened her snoring. She was eventually placed on CPAP for her moderate obstructive sleep apnea, and is now happy to report that while her memory is not back to normal, it is much improved.”

“I have been utilizing my CPAP for about a year. I do feel more rested in the mornings and no longer wake up feeling like I have a headache. I found it very interesting OSA can cause memory loss. I am 43 and have noticed a significant decline in my ability to remember information for both the long and short term”

“A week later, I was sleeping like a baby and my life began returning to normal. I have been on the CPAP for almost five years and am so used to it now that it is as normal to me as brushing my teeth–and about as noteworthy. My memory has returned; my energy level is up; and I have even gone back to work on a part-time basis as an analyst. Life is good again. Despite the advance in years, I feel better than I did 10 years ago. It’s truly amazing what a good night’s sleep can do and conversely what its lack can do.”


Final thoughts

Have you tried treatment for your sleep apnea? What were the results? Did you see an improvement in your mental state? Let us know your story in the comments between your sleep apnea and brain fog.

By Adrianus

Since childhood I've tried hundreds of little experiments to feel better, learn faster and perform higher (e.g. supplements, sports, psychological tricks, sleep and wacky diets).
After I graduated university in 2016, I basically found that sleep was the #1 factor to improve every aspect of life.
Bad sleep = bad life. I started SleepInvestor in 2017 to share my experiments and thoughts about sleep.

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