Long-Term CPAP Use Improves Neurocognitive Function and Sleepiness

Memory

Obstructive sleep apnea has been shown to affect both physical and mental functions in the body. OSA can cause excessive fatigue, memory loss, and hinder cognition. CPAP therapy, the most commonly used treatment for OSA, may reverse some of these problems.

CPAP works by providing the user with a constant flow of room air delivered via a facial mask. The air splints open the wearer’s airway using positive pressure, thereby eliminating nighttime airflow restrictions. In a recent 6-month long multicenter study, over 1500 participants were randomly given either real or sham CPAP to gauge the device’s effectiveness in reducing neurocognitive problems caused by sleep apnea.

The participants in the study were tested using a variety of methods to assess three areas of cognition: attention and psychomotor function, learning and memory, and executive and frontal-lobe function.  The results of the study showed “improvement in the most sensitive measures of executive and frontal-lobe function for those with severe disease, which suggests the existence of a complex OSA-neurocognitive relationship” The research also indicates that CPAP users benefit from “a significantly greater ability to remain awake whether measured subjectively or objectively” than non-CPAP users who suffer from sleep apnea.

If you or a loved one has untreated sleep apnea, it could be affecting your memory, reasoning and daytime energy levels. Seeking treatment using CPAP therapy could greatly improve the way you think and feel. To get tested for sleep disorders, contact the sleep specialists at Oregon Sleep Associates at 503-288-5201.

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