Sleep Apnea

The Scary Effects of Sleep Apnea on the Brain

Sleep Apnea is a condition that occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep. It can partially or completely stop the airflow, causing an individual to have disrupted, uncomfortable sleep. Even though it is a serious issue, many people do not realize they suffer from it. Individuals may feel fatigued upon waking or have other symptoms, but they can usually be attributed to other causes. Sleep Apnea can be a serious danger for many who suffer.

Sleep Apnea is known by many for the toll it can take on the human body and the heart in particular. According to studies, Sleep Apnea can cause high blood pressure or heart problems (and all of the additional side effects that go along with that). In addition, it is often credited with increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. However, the effects of sleep apnea on the brain can be just as alarming.

It is vital to consider what sleep deprivation or air deprivation during sleep can do to the human brain. Understanding how this surprisingly common disorder impacts the brain brings home the point that those who suffer from Sleep Apnea need to seek treatment as some damage when caught quickly is reversible.

Can Sleep Apnea cause memory loss?

It may surprise you to find that Sleep Apnea and memory loss go hand in hand. There have been a number of studies over the years that look at the effects of Sleep Apnea on brain function. One study, for example, was conducted by New York University. The study, which was conducted on Alzheimer’s patients showed that those who had been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea or other breathing issues were diagnosed, on average 10 years earlier than those who did not have this hurdle to overcome.

With more than 18 million Americans estimated to suffer from Sleep Apnea, there may be a crisis on hand in the coming decades, unless something is done to prevent the memory loss and related symptoms from becoming a serious problem. That’s why seeking Sleep Apnea advice from a sleep specialist is vital.

Can Sleep Apnea cause migraines?

Migraine headaches, no matter the cause can be debilitating. Nothing is worse than a pounding headache when a person needs to work or take care of their family, and a migraine can make it impossible to function normally until the pain subsides. In many cases, migraines are often treated without ever finding the root cause. However, doctors have found that Sleep Apnea migraines (those caused as a direct result of SA) are more common than once believed.

In many cases, Sleep Apnea migraines will first occur during the nighttime (or normal sleeping hours.) These occur because the body is deprived of both sleep and oxygen and one way that the brain responds, in some individuals, is with the deep pain and aural sensation of a migraine headache. One excellent piece of news for migraine sufferers is that if Sleep Apnea is the cause, these headaches normally subside or decline in number after the Apnea is under control.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Dizziness?

Unexplained dizziness is a bothersome symptom for many. It can make it challenging to work, complete household chores and pursue many favorite hobbies. There are many causes for dizziness, so if it is an ongoing concern, it should be discussed with a doctor. However, one common root cause of dizziness is Sleep Apnea.

Most commonly, those who have Sleep Apnea and dizziness will feel it most severely first thing in the morning. When a person wakes up dizzy and has to take a few extra moments to get their bearings before they feel steady on their feet and safe to walk, they may suffer from Sleep Apnea related dizziness. This is usually caused because the brain has been deprived of oxygen during the night and not functioning at 100% first thing in the morning, so trying to switch from the laying down position to an upright and moving position becomes troublesome.

Is There a Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Vertigo?

Vertigo is a type of dizziness that comes on unexpectedly, or it can be an ongoing issue. For some, it presents itself as a feeling of “spinning” while for others it feels as though the world around a person is unsteady or shifting.

Vertigo is an inner-ear and balance disorder can be caused by anything that affects the inner ear. For many, it begins with an ear infection or something similar. However, anything that affects the brain can transfer to the inner ear quite easily. This means that Sleep Apnea since it causes a lessening in the amount and quality of sleep and reduces the amount of oxygen that goes to the brain could be a factor leading to vertigo.

The reality is that research on the effects of Sleep Apnea is still in the early stages. While these are some of the most obvious effects, there may be further issues that haven’t yet been discovered. For more information about ways to reduce the effects of sleep apnea on the brain and solutions for a better night sleep, check out the Sleep Apnea treatment options available at


  1. Linda Patterson Reply

    My husband did not have sleep issues until he had heart surgery. Within a couple of days he starting having problems. He could not stay asleep for more than an hour or two. He would wake up feeling restless, tired, and agitated. This went on for a couple of years with doctors trying sleeping pills, anti-depression pills , sending him to a psychologist. Nothing worked. Finally he had a sleep study. He is now using a cpap and some of the problems have eased but he still feel tired a lot and does not have the energy and sense of well being he did have. My question is could the heart surgery and the reaction to some medication while in the hospital be at least in part the cause for his sleep apnea?

    • Hi Linda, i’m sorry to hear of the troubles your husband is dealing with. There could possibly be a correlation, between the surgery/medication and his sleep apnea diagnosis. Unfortunately, I am not medically trained to confirm either way. Please speak with your husband’s doctor to confirm if the two conditions are related.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be of better assistance with your concerns. If you think of any further questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      We wish you both the best!

  2. Guadalupe Castanon Reply

    My niece had a severe stroke 7 months ago a sleep study was done and results where she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Is this why she is not getting better sooner. They recommend a Cpap to use at night. She can’t move her Right side of her body

    • Hi Guadalupe, i’m very sorry to hear about your niece’s illness. I wish her a speedy recovery. To confirm if not getting enough Oxygen, is contributing to her not getting better sooner, please speak with her doctor.

      Also, please follow through with the doctor’s recommendation to use the CPAP machine.

      For further questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at; 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail additional questions, or concerns to:

      Best wishes to you and your niece!

  3. Shawn W Bell Reply

    I have sleep apnea and I am currently am using a ResMed cpap machine and have an annual checkup every year. According to my ResMed online report everything appears to be very positive with very few issues and I’ve been receiving gold stars for several months. However, for the last few months I’ve noticed that upon waking up and getting out of bed. I feel lightheaded. Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas on how I can correct this from happening? Thanks in advance! Hope everyone is staying healthy.

    Respectfully Yours:

    Shawn W Bell

    • Hi Shawn,
      I’m very sorry for my delayed response. I would strongly recommend you speaking with your doctor regarding your recent feeling of being lightheaded.

      This could be because the brain has been deprived of oxygen during the night and not functioning at 100% first thing in the morning, so trying to switch from the laying down position to an upright and moving position becomes troublesome.

      Also, keep in mind that the lightheaded feeling, could be unrelated to your CPAP therapy. Your doctor/sleep specialist will be able to review your therapy data, and confirm if setting adjustments are warranted, or if there is an underlying medical condition.

      For further questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at:

      We wish you the best!

    • Hi Rev Rachel,
      I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems with your therapy. It sounds like you may not be receiving enough air from your machine.

      If your single pressure setting is incorrect, you have an apnea event, not receive enough pressure to correct it, which means you stop breathing which can cause you to wake up confused, or disoriented.

      Please speak with your doctor, so that he/she may review your therapy data in detail to confirm if a pressure adjustment is warranted. Also, you may benefit from switching to an APAP (auto-adjusting machine), which is set to a high and low pressure and the machine provides you the amount of pressure you need on a breath-by-breath basis.

      For further questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at:

      Best Wishes

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