New research: sleep apnoea could affect your memory

The findings of a new study have revealed that obstructive sleep apnoea could have an effect on one's ability to form meaningful personal memories.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition that can have some serious health effects. Caused by various factors, the condition is associated with symptoms like daytime sleepiness, frequent and/or loud snoring, depression, headaches and problems with concentration. Now, new research shows that obstructive sleep apnoea could also cause problems with memory — and more specifically, the ability to form and recollect personal memories.

What was the study about?

The study, which was conducted at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society earlier this year, focused on the relationship between obstructive sleep apnoea and autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memory is one's ability to remember and retain detailed information about their personal lives. Interestingly, previous research has linked depression with impaired autobiographical memory.

How did the study work?

The researchers performed examinations on a group of adults who suffered from obstructive sleep apnoea and had not sought treatment, as well as a group of adults without the condition. During these examinations, the researchers took note of each of the adult's ability to recall memories from various times in their lives, including childhood, early adulthood, and recent events.

What did the study find?

The researchers found that the study participants with untreated obstructive sleep apnoea tended to have more generalised memories than those without the condition. The individuals with obstructive sleep apnoea could not describe their memories in very specific detail when compared with those without sleeping disorder. In fact, more than 52 percent of the participants with sleep apnoea had what the researchers called 'over general' memories, while less than 19 percent of the other participants had this issue. The researchers explained that obstructive sleep apnoea may have an impact on the brain's ability to recall specific details from the past, which may, in turn, lead to depression and other memory problems.

What can we do about it?

If you suffer from sleep apnoea, it's important that you don't leave the condition untreated. Besides the findings of this new research that suggest the condition may be linked to memory problems, obstructive sleep apnoea can also lead to a host of other health issues. These include hypertension, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Look out for symptoms of the disorder, which include headaches, drowsiness, poor performance at school and work, and hyperactivity in children. If you notice any of these signs, we encourage you to come in and see us for a consultation. This will allow us to recommend a treatment option that best suits your needs.

What kinds of treatment are available?

Fortunately, there are now a number of options available when it comes to the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea. In adults, we often recommend the use of a dental mouth guard, which helps to keep the soft tissues of the throat open during sleep. In other cases, the use of a CPAP machine is often very effective.

In children, it is sometimes sufficient to remove the tonsils, but if this is not successful, we often recommend myofunctional therapy. Myofunctional therapy helps to correct the functions and muscles of the mouth, lips and jaw and is particularly effective if it is started at an early age.

To find out more about obstructive sleep apnoea and how we can help, please take a look here.

If you would like to come in for a consultation, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Our team is dedicated to providing you with top-quality care, and we use the latest equipment and technology when providing treatment.