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Sleep’s Impact on Learning and Memory

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Sleep is a key factor in learning and memory. Sharp brain waves produced during sleep help create memories and allow new information to be stored. For instance, if you learn the golf downswing today, your brain will store this information while you sleep so you can recall this magic move tomorrow.

Saving in Progress

Every night, while catching up on your Zs, your hippocampus is providing a detailed play-by-play on new information and experiences to the neocortex (1). As this information is reviewed, long-term memory is formed.

Untreated OSA’s Affect on Your Memory

OSA: Learning, Memory, and Sleep

Have you been experiencing symptoms of Sleep Apnea, like exhaustion, fatigue, or frequent headaches? If so, it’s important to speak with your doctor about your symptoms. Untreated Sleep Apnea can elevate your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and more.  It may also impair certain memory abilities, as studies show that hypopneas and apneas tend to last longer and occur more frequently during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (1). “What” you know and “how” you do things are memories formed during this stage of the sleep cycle. Therefore, the consolidation of fact and process-based information is at risk if OSA goes untreated.

The good news is that consistent and regular use of CPAP helps!

CPAP to the Rescue

Research suggests that using CPAP consistently and regularly improves memory performance. By helping you sleep through the night and providing your brain with the necessary oxygen, memory abilities impaired by OSA can be recouped.

A study regarding performance on an overnight picture memory task showed that those with OSA who use CPAP had better memory than those who don’t use CPAP. Even more, they outperformed those without Sleep Apnea!

So remember:

・Sleep therapy allows for a longer sleep with fewer interruptions.
・An increase in oxygen amounts to a higher brain cell count.
・Sleep improves the ability to concentrate and understand information.

Plus, using CPAP for six hours or more per night makes it eight times more likely to have normal memory abilities (2). So, keep in mind that CPAP makes it easier to get a good night’s sleep, which is crucial before and after learning something new.

For more information about Sleep Apnea, please read Everything You Need to Know About Sleep Apnea and How to Treat It. Feel free to call 1.800.356.5221 with any questions.


(1) “Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome”- M. Johns, 1997

(2) “Working Memory in Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Construct Validity and Treatment

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9 Responses

  1. I have been on an auto cpap machine for 15-20 years. At night before I would go to bed, I couldn’t wait to put on my mask and get a good nights sleep. Now, it seems like I fight the pressure all night, I do not wake up feeling rested I feel exhausted and almost always have a headache in the lower part of the back portion of my head in the morning. Seems like I may need a new sleep study. Something isn’t right.

  2. Long time user of CPAP. However, the mask that I’ve been using has been discontinued and having difficulty finding one that doesn’t cause pressure points. I’ve tried three now and it seems I’m not finding a good fit. Any suggestions? BTW, I use a full face ask.

  3. If you are having a tough time finding you perfect mask, I definitely recommend looking at our top selling masks available with free returns. A recent blog post recommends a handful of masks which might be a good match for you (masks 7 – 10 are all full face options. https://bit.ly/AirFitF10 ). The new AirFit F10 is also available with free returns and has received great reviews: https://bit.ly/AirFitF10.

    You can also use the filters down the left side to find the best mask for you: https://bit.ly/FullFaceMasks

    Hope that is helpful. We are open until 10PM CST if you need any help, too. 1-800-356-5221

  4. I am a new user and have the newest model available . I use a soft nasal mask. In the past days I have developed an itchy red patch that starts on the outer corner of both eyes and descends around the lower eye. I’ve never had this before and it started a few days after starting the Cpap. Why is this happening? I am applying herb tea compresses. Calendula cream made the itch worse. Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated!

  5. I hate the mask (as many people do). I have seerve obstructive sleep apnea. I am considering surgical options but I’ve been told the only one that may work for me is the mandibular advancement (when they break your jaw and move it forward). Has anyone had this before? What were your experiences? Did it work? Do you know of any other surgery that may help? Oral appliances?

  6. Rosnaini,

    We have not heard many positive things from those who have undergone surgery. (In some cases I understand this can create more scar tissue and make your Sleep Apnea more severe.) However, we are not likely to hear from users who have had success with the surgery or they would not need to shop with us. 🙂 Still, every medical procedure comes with side effects so make sure if you go that route you take great care in selecting a doctor and make sure you are aware of all the side effects.

    Good luck!

  7. Lucycat45,

    Getting started with CPAP therapy can seem a bit difficult at first. But there are several comfort items you can use to ease into therapy.

    Please read through are FAQ page to view different causes and solutions for what you’re going through: http://bit.ly/16iEqOn

  8. Wow, I would’ve really cheeckd into those surgeries before I did anything. Why a doctor would think breaking your jaw would help is beyond me. I have heard of a pallete surgery that works for some, that makes more sense since your soft pallete has something to do with the problem. Tonsils have nothing to do with it either. I suggest two things; get another doctor and research the pallete surgery thoroughly. Don’t sleep on your back, but on your sides, train yourself to sleep that way, I have and I have a very mild form of apnea.You should also find a Sleep Center that specializes in this disorder. Also, go to a naturopath to see what natural suppliments can help you sleep that won’t be a problem for the apnea. Good luck, hang in there, and make wise decisions based on your gut and proof that it works.

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