When was I supposed to be there? What did she say about my luggage? Where did I put my keys?

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or have noticed that you are not feeling refreshed after sleep, you may be asking more questions.

This can cause you to question whether there’s a connection between these lapses of memory and sleep apnea. You may also want to know if you should worry about more serious forms of memory loss, including Alzheimer’s Disease.

Discuss any medical concerns with your healthcare professional. This article gives information about sleep disorders and memory loss to help you prepare.

Sleep apnea is a condition where the breathing pauses while the person sleeps. This can cause the individual to wake frequently and not feel rested after sleeping.

There are two types of sleep disorders, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Some people experience both types of sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

This is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when the airway becomes blocked or collapses while an individual is trying to sleep. Obesity, large tonsils, and changes in hormone levels can all increase the chance of OSA.

Central sleep apnea (CSA)

A different type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send the signals needed to breathe. CSA can be caused by various health conditions that affect the brain’s control over the airway and chest muscles. Snoring or gasping in your sleep can be a sign of sleep apnea, especially if you’re experiencing daytime sleepiness or other signs of poor sleep.

If you think you have sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a sleep evaluation.

Sleep is an important time to consolidate memories. Those with untreated OSA may find it hard to recall details from the past because their brain does not have sufficient time to consolidate or encode certain types of life memories with more frequent waking in the night.

Additionally, a lack of sleep can leave you feeling groggy or foggy. This can make it hard to think clearly or solve problems throughout the day.

Researchers analyzing the results of 42 studies found that individuals with untreated OSA were significantly impaired compared to others in their verbal episodic memory and visuospatial episodic memory.

Because people with untreated OSA may have difficulty recalling specific details about their lives, it can lead to depression. More research beyond this older 2011 study is needed to determine the extent to which treatment of sleep apnea can restore memories that have been lost.

Poor sleep can lead to cognitive decline and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown:

  • People who get less REM sleep are at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s.
  • Those with sleep-disordered breathing (which includes sleep apnea) are 26% more likely to develop cognitive impairment than those without sleep-disordered breathing.
  • Around 40% of dementia cases are believed to be attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors, which include untreated OSA.

“There are treatment options available to help improve sleep apnea, which poses a risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. There is still more research to be done on the effects of sleep apnea treatment on cognitive decline.”

“If you have sleep apnea, you should talk to your doctor about the signs of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s to be aware of them.”

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes. These can include:

  • Getting regular physical activity.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight is important.
  • avoiding smoking
  • limiting the amount of alcohol.
  • Sleeping on your side will help keep the airway open.

While these lifestyle changes may not resolve your sleep apnea completely, they can help to decrease the severity of your sleep apnea and improve the quality of your sleep.

Your doctor may suggest a breathing device to help keep your airway open while you sleep. Some of the more common breathing devices.

If you want to keep the airway open while you sleep, you may want to consider using oral devices. The jaw and tongue can block the upper airway, so these are custom fitted to prevent that.

Orofacial therapy is a method of treatment that involves exercises to strengthen the muscles that control the lips, tongue, upper airway and face.

In some cases, surgery may be useful to correct a physical obstruction in the throat, but this is a less common treatment choice.

“Sleep apnea can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep and remembering everything you need to. When were you supposed to meet up with that friend again?”

“There are a variety of treatment options for those with sleep apnea, including breathing devices, lifestyle changes, and even surgery. These can help you get a better night’s sleep and prevent memory issues.”

If you think you have sleep apnea, you should talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out which treatments are right for you.