Most people are on a quest for youth. To stay looking and feeling young, they may buy high-end skincare products, visit the gym a few times each week, and eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods. However, they may neglect one important factor in the aging process — sleep. Let’s talk about how sleep apnea may accelerate aging and what you can do to turn back the clock.
Sleep Apnea and Aging: What the Research Says
There are two ways of measuring age. Chronological age is simple mathematics; it refers to the amount of time that has passed since you were born. Biological age is more complex and is a measurement of how lifestyle and medical factors affect the body’s aging process.
Recent research from the University of Missouri School of Medicine used a blood test to measure the biological age of 16 obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients at the beginning of a one-year period. They found that, compared to a control group of individuals without OSA, the patients who did not sleep well showed more signs of accelerated biological aging.
Throughout the one-year test period, the OSA patients received treatment for their condition. They used a CPAP machine to keep their airway open and prevent the pauses in breathing that are characteristic of OSA. At the end of the test period, the participants took another blood test, which revealed a deceleration of aging in those who had adhered well to their recommended treatment protocol.
Why Does Sleep Apnea Accelerate Aging?
One of the researchers in the abovementioned study noted, “Our results found that OSA-induced sleep disruptions and lower oxygen levels during sleep promoted faster biological age acceleration compared to the control group.” Yes, it seems that a key to minimizing aging is to get high-quality sleep with minimal breathing disruptions.
Do You Need Sleep Apnea Treatment?
It is estimated that 22 million Americans have OSA. However, many of them remain undiagnosed. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Loud, frequent snoring
- Daytime exhaustion
- Irritability and other mood disruptions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequently waking up with a sore throat or headache
- Waking up gasping for air
If you suspect that you have OSA, you should seek an official diagnosis. Afterward, you can explore your treatment options. The research discussed in this article measured a CPAP machine’s ability to decelerate aging. However, many people find CPAP therapy to be uncomfortable. For most patients, a custom oral appliance from a dentist is an equally effective alternative.
Sleep problems can speed up the aging process! Fortunately, treatments are available that can fight OSA and help patients to turn back the tide of time.
Meet the Practice
Dr. Mark Brodhagen has served his community for nearly five decades. He has pursued advanced training in sleep dentistry and is proud to offer oral appliance therapy. To find out more about how he may be able to help you conquer OSA, contact our office at 920-499-2121.