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September 5th 2013

A survey suggests that sleep apnea exacts a huge toll on emotional health.
Sleep apnea is characterised by cessation of the breathing many times during the night and it’s often accompanied by snoring. It’s caused by the tissue at the back of the throat obscuring the free passage of air into and out of the lungs.

We already know that sleep apnea is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Researchers at Laval University in Quebec reveal that the condition also impairs emotional health and quality of life. They surveyed 100 people who had just been diagnosed with sleep apnea. As might have been expected, 77 per cent reported excessive daytime fatigue.

This feeling of tiredness led to many negative emotional responses. For instance, 69 per cent felt constantly impatient, 59 per cent suffered general anxiety and 53 per cent felt depressed. And more than half did not want to stay overnight with friends for fear of snoring, while three out of four admitted their partner was disturbed by their sleeping habits. Given than obesity is a major factor in sleep apnea, it’s perhaps not surprising that three quarters were concerned about their weight.

The study shows how important it is to detect and treat sleep apnea. Not only does it have an impact on cardiovascular health, it also affects your mental health and wellbeing.