Sleep Apnea Causes Memory Loss

Armen Hareyan's picture

Sleep apnea sufferers may suffer brain tissue damage, which is responsible for memory.

Other researches have already proved the link between sleep apnea and risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. This new research says that sleep apnea also leads to memory loss.

Sleep apnea patients stop breathing when asleep. They wake up to breathe normally and take oxygen. Breath interruption happens because throat, soft palate and tongue muscles relax, narrow the way for air to get inside. These patients may wake up about hundred of times during a night, this is why they never sleep well and are sleepy during daytime and have difficulties with remembering things and concentration.


Problems with memory were thought to be because of lack of sleep, but the research shows that it is caused by serious damage of brain tissue.

A team of researchers from University of California, Los Angeles examined patients with sleep apnea. They did MRI scans for brain underside tissues called mammillary bodies and found that the examined 43 disease sufferers had 20% smaller mammillary bodies than 66 participants without the disease.

Researchers suggest that the continuing lack of oxygen causes serious brain tissue damage leading to memory loss. Memory problems continue even when patients receive proper sleep apnea treatment, meaning that brain damage is very serious and difficult to recover.

There are other diseases such as Alzheimer's, leading to brain tissue damage, and these patients are taking thiamine or vitamin B1 to stop brain cell death. ULCA researchers are planning a further research to see if vitamin intake will stop brain damage in sleep apnea patients as well.