Sleep Apnea is Linked to an Increased Risk of Dementia

Sleep Apnea is Linked to an Increased Risk of Dementia

A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, led by Dr. Melinda Jackson from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, has found a link between severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and an increase in the risk of dementia.


Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide (though many people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed). OSA occurs when the tissues in the throat collapse during sleep, cutting off oxygen to the brain. If your body stops bringing in oxygen, your brain will wake you up just enough to get your breathing again. You may not even notice your body waking up. If you would like to learn more about sleep apnea, specifically OSA, please read our blog to learn more about some of the dangers of sleep apnea.


Dementia is a group of disorders caused by abnormal brain changes that lead to a decline in cognitive abilities. The most well-known form of dementia is known as Alzheimer’s. Dementia negatively impacts daily life and independence.


The study found that a high amount of a protein (called beta-amyloid) was found in the brains of people with severe OSA. This protein builds up in the walls of the arteries in the brain. An increase of these proteins is linked to an increased risk of dementia.
The study analyzed people with severe OSA and those who do not show signs of any sleep disorders. The study showed that those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea had a higher protein burden, worse sleep efficiency, and spent less time in stage N3 sleep.

Stage N3 Sleep – Stage N3 sleep is a phase of deep sleep during the Non-REM phase of sleep. It typically lasts between 20 to 40 minutes and is the last phase before REM sleep. Stage N3 sleep is the time of sleep where your body heals and repairs itself.

This means people with Sleep Apnea spent less time sleeping when their brain was supposed to heal itself.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea does NOT have to be a death sentence. There are a variety of treatment options available to treat OSA. The first step is to take our Sleep Apnea Screener. This test is 92% accurate and will help your sleep doctor decide the best treatment option for you. Take the assessment today. Remember, you do not have to live with sleep apnea! It is treatable, and when you treat it, your health will certainly increase.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to someone before you take our sleep apnea screener, give our office a call now. We have sleep specialists standing by, ready to assist you by answering any questions you may have. We understand the apprehension you may be feeling and want to help you in any way we can.

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