Snoring could result in memory decline at an earlier age


Heavy snoring and sleep apnoea, a condition where breathing is interrupted during sleep, may be linked to memory and thinking decline at an earlier age, according to a new study.

The research, which reviewed the medical histories for 2,470 people ages 55 to 90, categorised the subjects as either free of memory and thinking problems, in early stages of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or with Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers also looked at people with sleep breathing problems versus those without.

They found that people with sleep breathing problems were diagnosed with MCI an average of nearly 10 years earlier than people who did not have problems.

The findings were published in the journal Neurology.

But lead author Ricardo S. Osorio of The Center for Brain Health at NYU School of Medicine in New York stressed that the results did not mean sleep apnoea caused dementia. Alzheimer’s disease itself can cause sleep problems, he told Reuters. If sleep issues led to cognitive decline, it could be due to oxygen deprivation or to sleep fragmentation, he said.

“Apnoeas produce arousals and wake you up, so you don’t get nice restorative sleep.”

And the good news was that people who treated their sleep breathing problems with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine were diagnosed with MCI about 10 years later than people whose problems were not treated.

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