Does Sleep Apnea Cause Stress?
If you are experiencing stress from your sleep apnea, visit Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders today. Our Sleep &TMJ dentists can help you treat your sleep apnea and improve your quality of sleep, which in turn reduces your stress. We serve patients from all over the USA. Locations in Bloomington IL, Peoria – Dunlap IL, Lafayette IN, Mishawaka IN, Columbia MO, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI. For more information call us at one of our clinics today or request an appointment online.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep and can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, the pauses may last ten seconds or longer and may happen five to fifteen times per hour. However, in severe cases, the pauses can last minutes and occur dozens—even hundreds—of times every night. With this interruption to sleep, sleep apnea can contribute to stress, which can negatively impact other areas of a person’s life.
Can sleep apnea be stress-related?
Central sleep apnea (CSA) involves causes related to the improper functioning of the nervous system, where obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) involves physical causes such as blockages in the airway. Therefore, in patients who have OSA and have been prescribed Oral appliance therapy or CPAP therapy, it is likely that sleep apnea is caused by physical factors.
Sleep apnea, however, can certainly contribute to stress—for both the sufferer and their partner. For people who watch their partners stop breathing during the night, it can be very stressful and cause sleeping problems of their own. Likewise, for people with sleep apnea, it can be stressful before going to bed, knowing that they suffer from this condition. It can also be stressful in the morning, waking up with a sore throat from snoring, or waking up tired and fatigued, possibly with a headache, from lack of oxygen to the brain.
How does sleep apnea affect your mood?
In several sleep studies, researchers have seen structural changes in the brain due to sleep apnea. However, another study found substantial differences in two chemicals that influence how the brain is working, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA. These chemicals are found in a part of the brain called the insula, located deep within the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain combines and coordinates signals from other regions of the brain to help regulate emotions, thinking, and certain physiological functions such as blood pressure and perspiration. According to the study published online in the Journal of Sleep Research, people with sleep apnea have lower levels of GABA and abnormally high levels of glutamate. While GABA acts as a mood inhibitor, slowing things down and promoting calmness, glutamate has the opposite effect: When glutamate levels are high, the brain is stressed and does not work as well.
How do you treat sleep apnea stress?
There are several ways to reduce stress related to sleep apnea, including:
- Keep a stress diary
- Monitor sleep apnea stress
- Sleep meditation for stress
- Soothing music for sleep stress
While these methods are proven to be effective for many people, treating the underlying cause of sleep apnea can significantly reduce stress and worries about sleep.
Does sleep apnea cause brain damage?
Yes, sleep apnea can cause brain damage. Sleep apnea causes pauses in breathing throughout the night, which can limit the amount of oxygen absorbed by the body, resulting in oxygen-deprived cells. When this affects the brain, this lack of oxygenation can result in cell damage. Although brain damage is unlikely in mild cases of sleep apnea, it becomes increasingly more likely the more severe sleep apnea is.