The Mental and Emotional Weight of Sleep Apnea

The Mental and Emotional Weight of Sleep Apnea

It’s no surprise that when you don’t get enough sleep, you tend to become more irritable and emotionally volatile than usual.  You may struggle to keep a calm tone of voice with your children or find yourself snapping at your spouse or co-worker over nothing.

Not only do you feel surly and fractious, you also feel bad about acting that way. But you have no energy for your emotions, not for apologies, not for control.  You’re just too exhausted to care.

When you live your life with a sleep deficit for more than one day, a week, or a month, cranky and irritable become your norm; depression is often soon to follow.

With sleep apnea, you may not realize it, but you’re never getting a full night of rest. You may drift off and even begin to dream, but those dreams always get cut short; that’s why you don’t remember them. At some point, you stop breathing, and your nervous system gets…nervous. It begins sending signals to wake you up, not all the way, but enough to make you breathe.  This may take the form of simply feeling the need to turn over during the night, or even getting up to go to the bathroom. But even though you won’t notice all your periods of wakefulness, they prevent you from getting the deep, restorative sleep you need.

What A Lack of Sleep Does to Your Brain

Getting a restful night’s sleep resets your brain chemistry. It allows each portion of the brain to connect to and regulate both itself and your body. Without a full 8 hours your brain, the control and memory centre for your body, becomes damaged.

  • The most primitive part of your brain, the amygdala, reigns, allowing more negative, explosive reactions.
  • The hippocampus, which is responsible for writing new memories, slows down, affecting your short-term memory.
  • Your dopamine receptors, which are responsible for your wake/sleep cycles may become damaged, keeping you sleepy around the clock.
  • Neurotransmitter levels become out of balance, allowing depression to gain a foothold.
  • The lack of oxygen that occurs with sleep apnea is also concerning as it harms the memory centres, and prevents clear, focused thinking.

 

Treatment for Sleep Apnea in Raleigh, North Carolina

Thankfully, sleep apnea is a treatable condition. Though it sometimes can take some time to convince your spouse (or yourself) to get a sleep study, the results and treatment are usually worth it. The trouble is that the treatment is only as good as your compliance. Not everyone wants to wear a bulky face mask at night, while others complain about the dryness of the air being continuously pushed in through a CPAP machine.

At Raleigh Dental Arts, we can provide you with an oral sleep appliance to stop your snoring and correct the problem of obstructive sleep apnea. Contact our Raleigh office for an appointment with Dr. Agarwal and start getting a good night’s sleep again!