You wake up, check the clock and, frustratingly, see that it’s still the middle of the night. This happens several times, and when morning finally comes, you’re exhausted. Unfortunately, tiredness could be the least of your problems. Interrupted sleep can have all sorts of negative effects on your mental and physical health – especially if it’s a result of a disorder like sleep apnea. Here are 5 potential dangers for frequent restless nights.
1. Decreased Cognitive Ability
Your brain needs a full night of sleep to operate in peak condition. If you keep waking up, your cognitive abilities (the speed of your thoughts and your attention span) will suffer. This can make driving incredibly risky; you won’t be able to react as quickly, which can cost you precious seconds if you need to brake suddenly. You’ll also find that the quality of your work will suffer, which could have dire consequences for your career.
2. Memory Problems
The deepest stage of sleep – also REM sleep – is the body’s chance to consolidate the information the brain gathered during the day. In other words, sleep is essential for learning and long-term memory. However, you can only reach the REM stage when your rest is uninterrupted. It doesn’t matter how much total time was spent asleep; if you keep waking up, you won’t reap the full benefits of the sleep cycle.
3. Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to amyloid proteins in the brain. They get cleared away during a full night’s sleep, but if your rest is interrupted every night, the proteins will start to build up, which could make dementia more likely.
4. Risk of Heart Attack
If the cause of your frequent awakenings is sleep apnea – a condition where breathing frequently stops during the night and forces the body to wake up briefly to resume airflow – your blood pressure could increase. This makes it more likely that you could suffer from a heart attack, as well as other cardiovascular health issues such as stroke. The longer the condition goes unaddressed, the more likely it is that your life could be in danger.
Predictably, waking up constantly during the night can put you in a bad mood the next day. If this happens every night, your frequent negative feelings to lead to clinical depression. This will greatly decrease your quality of life and will likely become worse over time.
If you think that you might have sleep apnea or another condition that’s keeping you up at night, talk to your sleep dentist; they can point you in the right direction for a diagnosis and an effective treatment. For the sake of your health, do whatever it takes to catch some zzz’s!
About the Author
Mitch Conditt has over 30 years of dental experience and specializes in helping patients in Fort Worth suffering from sleep disorders and TMJ symptoms. He’s a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and has plenty of experience using oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (817) 527-8500.