How old are you really? You have a chronological age that increases with every birthday, but your body also has what’s called a biological age that describes its overall condition. There are many different factors that can change your biological age, and one of them is the quality of sleep you get every night. Here’s why sleep apnea in Denver could be aging you – and what you can do to stop it!
How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Biological Age?
If you have sleep apnea, you’ll stop breathing multiple times during the night; whenever this happens, you’ll wake up for a very brief time so that the flow of air can resume. If your rest keeps getting interrupted like this, you won’t reach the stages of deep sleep that are important for maintaining good health. Unfortunately, since each awakening is so short, you probably won’t even remember that they happened; for this reason, sleep apnea can continue for a very long time before it’s treated.
A study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found a connection between sleep disordered breathing and epigenetic age acceleration. (“Epigenetics” studies changes in your genes that are not caused by changes in your DNA.) Basically, the longer you have sleep apnea, the worse condition your body will be in compared to your chronological age. For example, a lack of oxygen can cause your blood pressure to rise, which puts a strain on your cardiovascular system; over time you’ll become more likely to suffer from potentially fatal strokes or heart attacks.
Other long-term effects of sleep apnea could include obesity, an inability to concentrate, memory problems, and a decreased libido. These issues will only become more severe the longer you go without treatment.
What Can You Do About Aging from Sleep Apnea?
In many cases, the effects of epigenetic aging can be reversed. If you’re worried that sleep apnea has had a negative effect on your body, your best bet is to get treatment as soon as possible. There are a few different options you can consider:
- Oral Appliance: If you see a dentist for sleep apnea, they’ll usually recommend oral appliance therapy. It’s a device that you wear on your teeth at night that repositions your jaw so that the airway stays open.
- CPAP: A CPAP machine uses a steady stream of air to keep your airway free of obstruction. While it’s usually effective, many patients can’t tolerate it; in those cases, oral appliance therapy is usually preferred.
- Losing Weight: Since sleep apnea is often a side effect of obesity, getting rid of any excess weight can make a big difference.
Talk to your dentist or doctor about other ways you can try and sleep easier at night; that way, you’ll be helping your body stay as young as it should be.
About the Author
As a past victim of sleep apnea himself, Dr. Gary Radz has dedicated his career to helping others protect themselves from the potentially deadly effects of the disorder. At his practice in Denver, he offers appliances that’ll let patients enjoy a night free of snoring and breathing-related interruptions. To schedule an appointment at his practice, Downtown Denver Sleep Solutions, visit his website or call (303) 377-5337.