One snoring loudly is quite annoying for anyone else nearby, and that was about the worst it was thought that it could get. Yet, according to recent studies, the bothersome sleep defect could produce very adverse results in the long run.
The Daily Mail reports scientists have warned that loud snoring, specifically the obstructive sleep apnea that can cause it, could lead to dementia and other memory issues.
A study conducted in Austrailia has revealed that persons suffering from the above did worse on memory tests than those who were not and had brain alterations linked to dementia.
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Many people suffer from sleep apnea, something which is more common in middle-aged, overweight men. The condition causes the walls of the throat to narrow during sleep which prevents a person from breathing. Scientists reckon it could shrink parts of one's brain due to the lowering of oxygen levels in the blood.
Said study found that persons with sleep apnea had shrunken left and right temporal lobes, the parts of the brain responsible for memory.
"Our results suggest that we should be screening for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in older people," Professor Sharon Naismith, who headed the study at the Brain and Mind Centre at Sydney University said.
"We should also be asking older patients attending sleep clinics about their memory and thinking skills and carrying out tests where necessary.... There is no cure for dementia so early intervention is key. On the other hand, we do have an effective treatment for OSA. This research shows that diagnosing and treating OSA could be an opportunity to prevent cognitive decline before it’s too late."
The researchers recruited 83 individuals over age 50 who were worried about memory problems and they were made to sleep under normal conditions, during which the air flow through their noses and blood oxygen levels were recorded.
Of the 83 subjects, 63 were found to have a mild to severe form of the condition after being graded on a sleep apnea index. The results also showed that those with lower levels of oxygen in their blood had reduced grey matter in their temporal lobes.
The study, however, did not focus on dementia. But the persons whose MRI scans showed changes did worse over the course of five memory tests consisting of lists bearing 15 items.