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Sleep Apnea & Mental Health

Sleep Apnea & Mental Health

Do you know that sleep apnea can have a negative impact on mental health, as well as physical health? Here, our Summerland dentist explains how sleep apnea can negatively impact the mental health of who suffer from this condition.

Those suffering from sleep apnea tend to snore loudly, wake frequently throughout the night, and experience disturbances in their dreams. While a relatively common condition, sleep apnea is potentially life-threatening since it can interfere with the brain's oxygen supply.

That said, people with sleep apnea don’t just have its physical effects to contend with, the condition can also have a negative mental health impacts as well.


A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that individuals with sleep apnea were more likely to experience depression than the general population.

Both poor sleep and lack of sleep have been linked to depression. Not only that, the stress associated with having a serious medical condition, like sleep apnea, can also cause depression in people.

The fact that sleep apnea reduces oxygen supply to the brain during sleep means that sleep apnea is particularly likely to negatively impact mental health. Over time the lack of oxygen to the brain can alter brain function and thereby increase the likelihood of sufferers developing depression.


The brain and body are supposed to be resting during sleeping hours. Sleep apnea is particularly problematic because it affects people while they’re sleeping.

A vicious cycle of anxiety can develop since the threat of breathing problems can cause severe anxiety, and this anxiety in turn can worsen sleep problems; Since sleep deprivation can contribute to both depression and anxiety, sufferers can find themselves becoming increasingly more anxious as time goes by.

Relationship Problems

Often people only discover that they have sleep apnea thanks to their sleep partner. It is common for partners are to be kept awake at night due to the sleep apnea related snoring.

Regardless of how supportive the partner may be, they may simply be unable to sleep with their loved one snoring beside them each night.  Often this leads to sleeping in separate bedrooms, which in turn decreases opportunities for intimacy, leading to greater relationship dissatisfaction and stress for both partners.

Changes in Dreams

It is believed that dreaming allows the brain to encode memories and process the events of the previous day.

Those who suffer from sleep apnea may not enter the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep state required for dreaming, because they waken so frequently throughout the night.

When a person doesn't enter or remain in REM sleep they can experience a number of mental health problems ranging from memory problems to anxiety.

Cognitive Impairment

Often, people who have sleep apnea become increasingly exhausted during the day, and often have difficulties focusing on important tasks.

Inadequate sleep can also negatively impact mood. People with sleep apnea can be jumpy or quick-tempered, making it difficult for them to effectively navigate normal day-to-day situations.

As you can see, many of the mental health problems associated with sleep apnea are connected to one another. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatments available for this condition.

If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Jubilee Dental Centre to book an assessment.

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