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MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES CAUSED BY SLEEP APNEA - March 15th, 2018

SLEEP APNEA BEGINNING TO BE RECOGNISED AS A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is characterised by repeated episodes of throat obstruction during the sleep cycle, can be very difficult to live with on a physical level, particularly if treatment is not sought. However, if that wasn’t difficult enough, sleep apnea can also be the cause of a number of mental health issues, which are only just starting to be scrutinised within the medical community. In fact, many patients may notice these symptoms before the sleep apnea itself is diagnosed. In this way, it is important to look out for the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one:

DREAM DISTURBANCES

While dreaming is often thought of as an elusive and otherworldly phenomenon, tracking dream patterns can actually provide clues to overall health. OSA sufferers, for example, often find it difficult to enter the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep that facilitates dreaming. As dreaming is a great tool for testing out anxiety-inducing situations and future goals, being unable to do so can heighten anxiety and memory retention in the waking world. Indeed, this can cause significant mental health problems for sleep apnea patients, and diagnosis and treatment should be sought.

RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWNS

While many of us like to think we are patient with our partners, sleeping next to someone with sleep apnea can significantly affect a person’s sleep quality due to the associated snoring. This can naturally lead to relationship issues. If you or a partner have sleep apnea symptoms, it’s a good idea to get things checked out and nip it in the bud before things escalate too far.

GENERALISED COGNITIVE DIFFICULTIES

As sleep apnea prevents dreaming and REM sleep, it can leave sufferers feeling tired and spaced out during the day. Indeed, this can lead to significant cognitive difficulties including an inability to concentrate, memory problems, and low or irritable mood. To make things worse, worrying about these issues can make the sleep apnea worse at night, creating a vicious cycle. In this way, as with the myriad mental health issues that sleep apnea can cause, it is important to consult your doctor on these issues.

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