Research suggests that treating sleep apnea after a stroke or a mini-stroke can significantly improve recovery and clinical outcome. Sleep Review presents a study abstract published for the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) on how home sleep testing can be used to better serve stroke patients.
An article published in TIME this month explores years of research on the role of sleep quality in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Researchers at Michigan State University conducted a large study to explore the impact of sleep deprivation on higher-order cognitive processes.
Previous research has shown how sleep deprivation can impair a person’s ability to follow a procedure and maintain attention. The new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, is the first of its kind to assess how sleep deprivation impacts ‘placekeeping’ – or, the ‘ability to complete a series of steps without losing one’s place, despite potential interruptions.’
The study found that when sleep deprived, participants were twice as likely to make placekeeping errors, and showed three times as many lapses in attention.
Researchers have found that sleep apnea may increase the risk of developing affective mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
A recent study published in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery followed 985 participants for an average of nine years. Over the course of the study, individuals with obstructive sleep apnea were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with depression, and nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety as those in the control group. Women with sleep apnea were more likely to develop a mood disorder than men.
The researchers concluded that further study of this association “may yield strategies for effective prevention and intervention practices.”
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep-disordered breathing problems may accelerate aging, according to a study abstract published in the journal Sleep.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School examined blood samples from 622 participants with untreated sleep disordered breathing to look for epigenetic changes in their DNA. Epigenetics refers to changes in the DNA that result from lifestyle and environmental factors. Such changes can affect how genes behave, as well as biological aging.
The researchers found that sleep-disordered breathing is linked to accelerated epigenetic aging, or early aging of the DNA within cells, and that this association increases with the severity of sleep breathing problems.
The data also showed that sleep disordered breathing leads to more significant epigenetic changes and accelerated aging in women than in men.
Fortunately, epigenetic changes are reversible, and sleep apnea is treatable. Understanding the effect of sleep apnea on aging would have significant implications for better health and longevity.
Researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered one way that sleep protects against atherosclerosis, the buildup of arterial plaques. Their study, published in Nature, describes the mechanism by which insufficient sleep increases production of inflammatory white blood cells known to be major contributors to atherosclerosis.
“We’ve identified a mechanism by which a brain hormone controls production of inflammatory cells in the bone marrow in a way that helps protect the blood vessels from damage,” explained Filip Swirski, Ph.D., the study’s senior author. “This anti-inflammatory mechanism is regulated by sleep, and it breaks down when you frequently disrupt sleep or experience poor sleep quality. It’s a small piece of to a larger puzzle.”
In a recent study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, researchers explored the link between obstructive sleep apnea and two common air pollutants — nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and a type of fine particle pollution known as PM2.5, produced by power plants, motor vehicles, agricultural fires, and certain industrial processes.
The study found that people who lived in areas with higher amounts of these two types of pollution were more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea. In particular, a participant’s risk of having sleep apnea increased by:
- 60 percent for each 5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) increase in yearly PM2.5 exposure
- 39 percent for each 10 parts per billion increase in yearly NO2
Air pollution harms billions of people on a continuing basis, and may damage health in a number of ways.
According to a recent study, snoring and sleep apnea may affect cardiac function in women earlier than in men. Women who snored were more likely to have a significant increase in left ventricular mass, making the heart work harder to fulfill the body’s needs.
Findings also suggested that obstructive sleep apnea may be vastly underdiagnosed among snorers.
A large study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that starting treatment for sleep apnea as early as possible after a stroke or a mini-stroke significantly improves recovery and clinical outcome.
According to the lead author, Dawn Bravata, MD, “We have shown, for the first time in a randomized controlled study, that for individuals who have had a stroke or a TIA—a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke— the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea with CPAP therapy provides significant benefits, even greater than the benefits of tPA [tissue plasminogen activator], the FDA-approved drug treatment for stroke.”
The study followed 252 individuals who had strokes or TIAs for up to one year after the event. Two-thirds of the study participants were effectively using CPAP therapy for sleep apnea. Preliminary data suggests that the earlier sleep apnea was treated in stroke patients, the more potent the effect of that treatment.
According to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with structural changes in the brain that are also found in the early stages of dementia.
The study evaluated 83 people, aged 51 to 88 years, who had reported cognitive decline. Findings showed that patients who had low levels of blood oxygen during sleep tended to have reduced thickness in the left and right temporal lobes of the brain, and that this alteration was associated with poorer encoding of new information. In addition, the researchers observed that patients with signs of OSA were more likely to have increased thickness in other areas of the brain.
The authors are continuing their research to determine whether diagnosing and treating OSA could prevent, or even improve cognitive decline in its early stages.