If you’ve been newly diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may have noticed a severe dip in your quality of life.
And the effects of sleep apnea don’t just spell trouble during your sleeping hours—how this sleep condition affects you beyond those precious moments of slumber is also quite extensive.
When your productive hours take a hit, it’s easy to feel like you’re unable to meet the demands of your daily life.
That said, the first step in taking control of your sleep apnea is understanding the ways it affects you.
Without further ado, here are some of the most pressing effects of sleep apnea in your daily life, explained in more detail.
1) You Become Moodier
Have you noticed yourself becoming less patient than usual? Do you wake up every day with a sour expression plastered all over your face? If so, it might be because of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea causes the airways in your throat to become blocked during sleep. This makes it difficult for you to breathe, and when your body is unable to normally inhale, you’ll gasp and jolt up in the middle of the night. And we don’t need to go into why sleep disturbance can cause anyone to be moody.
But that’s not all. This continuous awakening can get in the way of you entering the crucial phases of sleep, leading to an inability to fully restore yourself.
Furthermore, the amygdala, which is the emotional centre of your brain, is often affected by sleep deprivation. When you’re sleep deprived, your amygdala won’t regulate emotions properly, leading to heightened emotional reactions and a diminished ability to cope with stress. This can explain why you may feel snappier than usual.
2) You Forget Things More Easily
Sleep apnea reduces the amount of oxygen the body receives by obstructing airflow. One primary organ that’s severely affected by this is the brain.
The brain needs oxygen to perform its functions properly. In fact, it only takes 4 minutes without oxygen for the brain to sustain permanent damage. When there’s a lack of sufficient oxygen flow to the brain, as in the case of sleep apnea, it can lead to a multitude of mental impairments.
One such impairment is memory loss. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, its cognitive abilities diminish and it can fail to store and recall information effectively. In other words, you may find yourself having difficulty in memory recall.
This reduced brainpower can have severe consequences in one’s daily life. For instance, if your job requires you to remember complex concepts, this can become a huge hindrance. If you forget to turn off the stove, you can potentially risk a fire.
And even the simplest of tasks, such as remembering to bring your keys or wallet with you, can become strenuous when your memory isn’t functioning properly.
3) You Suffer From Perpetual Daytime Drowsiness
Do you often find yourself yawning uncontrollably during the day? Do you struggle to concentrate on tasks because of a feeling of tiredness that never goes away?
Unfortunately, this is a prevalent symptom of sleep apnea. When you don’t get good-quality, uninterrupted sleep, your body and its cells won’t be able to fully replenish itself.
This, in turn, can lead to unwavering exhaustion during the day. Not only does this affect your productivity at work, but it can also lead to serious accidents (e.g., car crashes) due to decreased reaction time and a lack of alertness.
As such, it’s vital to be in touch with medical professionals regarding this condition.
4) Your Libido Takes a Hit
Keep it a secret all you want—a sleep apnea patient’s sex drive can be adversely affected by their condition.
According to a published article, over half of male patients with sleep apnea also have erectile dysfunction. One reason for this link is because of the reduced production of testosterone levels.
When the body is deprived of sleep, it won’t have enough time to produce crucial hormones. One such hormone is the male sex hormone known as testosterone. If testosterone levels are too low, it can discourage men from participating in sexual activities.
Furthermore, a lack of testosterone is also linked with increased fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Couple that with the lethargy that a sleep apnea diagnosis already induces, and you got yourself a recipe for disaster for your health.
5) Your Immune System Weakens
With a highly-transmissive virus wreaking havoc the past couple of years, a weakened immune system is the last thing anyone would want.
But, unfortunately, sleep apnea can render someone’s immune system weak and vulnerable to illnesses. When you lack sleep, the production of cytokines, or protective cells, greatly reduces.
This diminished production can leave your body vulnerable during moments when your body gets exposed to foreign invaders, like the viral particles of COVID-19.
Furthermore, a lack of sleep increases inflammation throughout the body. When that happens, your body will become more prone to developing frequent infections and more severe illnesses.
It should be clear by now that sleep apnea is a serious condition with major consequences. If you think that you may be suffering from this condition, we highly urge you to get in touch with a medical professional to know the next steps to take to manage your condition.