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Sleep Matters: What Apnea Studies Teach Us About Brain Health

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Do you ever wake up feeling tired? Have you been told that you snore? If so, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders among adults. One of two major types of sleep apnea, obstructive apnea occurs when you stop breathing while asleep because something is blocking your airway, and it can be very dangerous to sufferers. And, interestingly, the impact of sleep apnea on health can be quite extensive. As recent studies of both obstructive and central sleep apnea demonstrate, the condition may be linked to memory problems and may even mimic Alzheimer’s disease’s impact on the brain.

Sleep Apnea: The Basics

We know that obstructive sleep apnea is very common among adults, but we don’t have particularly good data on the condition, with estimates ranging from 9-38%. However, we do know that men, older adults, and overweight individuals are more likely to suffer from this form of sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea, a form of the condition characterized by the failure of the brain to trigger breathing during sleep, is more commonly linked to other health conditions, ranging from congestive heart failure to various neurological diseases, and may occur at any age. For example, children with Angelman syndrome are prone to both central and obstructive sleep apnea, as are young people with Prader-Willi syndrome. 

Sleep And The Brain

Sleep is an important function of the brain, and our brain’s activity changes immensely while we sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, or sleep poorly, though, the consequences extend far beyond simple fatigue. Given this, scientists studying the impact of sleep, or a lack thereof, on the brain have turned to obstructive sleep apnea patients as a sample group, and one thing they’ve discovered is that many people with obstructive sleep apnea demonstrate the same brain changes seen in Alzheimer’s patients, despite the fact that they were never diagnosed with any form of dementia. 

Making Connections

Even before this study of sleep apnea patients, it was clear to researchers and doctors that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia were closely linked to sleep, and particularly to circadian rhythm disorders. As recent brain research has shown, Alzheimer’s patients often experience serious sleep disruption, which can cause them to get up and wander in the middle of the night and can complicate their care. Further research into the vulnerability of the primary circadian clock gene (Clk) to neurodegenerative disease is still underway.

Other Theories And Research Avenues

In addition to the research showing neurofibrillary tangles and beta-amyloid plaques in sleep apnea patients’ brains, ongoing work seeks to understand why these develop in this patient set. One working hypothesis suggests that insufficient deep sleep among obstructive sleep apnea patients may interfere with the body’s ability to clear beta-amyloid and other waste from the brain. Looking ahead, if researchers can determine why these patients develop plaques but do not develop dementia symptoms, this could offer valuable insights for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Patients often dismiss sleep apnea as snoring or as a condition that just makes them feel a little tired, but the more we learn about it, the more concerning the long-term effects of this condition become. Just as researchers are taking the condition seriously as a topic of study, then, patients must take its management serious to mitigate its medical consequences.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Health

Understanding The Relationship Between Diabetes And Fatigue

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Diabetes and fatigue have a direct relationship. If you have diabetes, you are likely to suffer from fatigue. However, do not mistake feeling tired with fatigue as those are very different from each other. When you are tired, you may feel energized after resting. But with fatigue, it is hard to get rid of feelings of exhaustion. 

Diabetes alone is a severe condition, and when fatigue is added, it can become stressful to manage both conditions simultaneously. But, fatigue should not be left untreated as it can affect your lifestyle significantly. Therefore, to treat fatigue in Lawrenceville, you need to understand its relationship with diabetes. 

Why does diabetes cause fatigue?

Diabetes is caused when the human body fails to produce sufficient insulin required to convert glucose into energy. If you are a diabetes patient, you are likely to experience fatigue at some point in your life. 

When a person consumes food, their body breaks down the food particles into simple sugars or glucose. Insulin is a peptide hormone that carries these sugars from your bloodstream to your cells and converts it into energy for immediate or later use. 

For people with diabetes, their body does not produce enough insulin for this process to take place. If your blood sugar level is high, these sugars will not be converted into energy and will build up in your bloodstream, posing severe health complications. One of these health complications is fatigue. 

Other causes of diabetes fatigue.

Changes in blood sugar levels may not be the only reason causing fatigue in your body. There are other factors related to diabetes that may be contributing to the condition. They are as follows. 

  • Frequent urination
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Lack of physical activity 
  • Skipping meals 
  • Extreme hunger and excessive thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor nutrition 

These symptoms may not cause your fatigue directly. However, all of these factors can cause mental and physical exhaustion, which may cause you to feel tired and unwell for a long time. Persistent feelings of tiredness can eventually lead to the development of fatigue. 

Your diabetes medications may be causing fatigue:

Various medications used by diabetes patients can have fatigue as a side effect. Following is a list of drugs that can potentially lead to feelings of fatigue. 

  • Statins
  • Corticosteroids
  • Diuretics
  • Beta blockers

Lifestyle changes are needed to manage your diabetes fatigue.

If you are looking to treat your fatigue using lifestyle changes, you need to take care of your diabetes. Diabetes and fatigue are correlated, and treating them can be successful when regarded as a whole rather than different conditions. 

The following lifestyle changes may be effective in managing your diabetes and fatigue altogether. 

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Limiting stress
  • Getting exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Practicing a good sleep routine
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