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Sleep Apnea and Sleep Deprivation: What You Should Know

By Adrienne Keller
The frequent pauses in breathing that occur with sleep apnea can lead to you losing valuable sleep. And these problems can have health consequences for your waking life.

Sleep apnea can lead to sleep deprivation, and both conditions can have serious negative consequences on your physical and mental health. Learn more about the potential long-term effects of sleep apnea and sleep deprivation.

How Sleep Apnea and Sleep Deprivation Are Linked

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing intermittently while you sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form of the disorder, causes the throat muscles collapse during sleep and obstruct the airway. The body then rouses, often with a gasp or choke, to restore oxygen flow.  

These sleep disturbances can prevent you from getting a full night of rest, and therefore leave you sleep-deprived. Both sleep apnea and sleep deprivation can have varied and serious consequences, as your ability to function and feel good throughout the day depends on the amount and quality of sleep you get each night.

“Fragmented sleep (from micro awakenings caused by OSA) can lead to daytime drowsiness,” Kent Smith, DDS, D-ABDSM and President of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Long-Term Effects of Sleep Apnea and Sleep Deprivation

Quality sleep is essential for your mental and physical health. Sleep deprivation is therefore unsurprisingly linked to a number of disorders. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, chronic health problems related to ongoing sleep deficiency include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Increased risk of injury

“Physically, good sleep will give you more energy and help ward off serious health concerns." Smith says.  However, “sleep apnea can be associated with—and lead to—concerning health issues.” According to Smith, those who are consistently sleep-deprived or delay treatment for sleep apnea put themselves at risk for developing the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Memory issues
  • Diabetes
  • Concentration issues
  • Increased risk of car accidents
  • Poor balance

Furthermore, “poor sleep tends to worsen mental health ailments, and mental health ailments can cause poor sleep,” Smith says. “In fact, nearly 46% of sleep apnea sufferers also experience depression, and up to 54% experience some degree of anxiety. By receiving proper treatment for sleep apnea, sufferers stand to improve not only their sleep but their mental health, too.”

Think you may have sleep apnea? Start your journey to more restful sleep TODAY.

Untreated sleep disorders can negatively affect your physical and emotional health. Sleep testing can help you get the answers you need to receive the treatment you deserve. WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.