Well Rested: Your Sleep and Mental Health

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a very common sleep disorder. It is marked by snoring, pauses in breathing, gasping for air and daytime sleepiness. Other factors in OSA include morning headaches, a large neck, being overweight and high blood pressure. Those with untreated OSA are at greater risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and early death.
But people experiencing sleep apnea are not just affected by its physical effects. They also experience mental health problems.
Having poor sleep quality can affect your mood and having a serious health condition itself is enough to cause some to feel depressed. Sleep apnea can interfere with mental health because of the reduced oxygen supply to the brain and frequent arousals from sleep. This alters brain function.
Not getting enough quality rest makes it very difficult to deal with routine daily task and cause anxiety.  People with untreated sleep apnea also tend to feel anxious before bed as they know that they would like to have a restful sleep but will most likely spend the night tossing and turning without knowing the cause.
Even the most supportive spouse can get fed up by being awoken night after night with loud snoring and tossing and turning. This can cause sleeping in separate rooms, resentment and decreased opportunity for intimacy.
Dreams are an opportunity to process emotions and events of the day freeing up your brain to deal with tomorrow. People with sleep apnea are constantly being disturbed out of their dream sleep. When someone does not get the proper amount of undisturbed dream sleep they experience anxiety to difficulty with memory.
Concentration and memory problems are one of the most significant repercussions of sleep apnea. Exhaustion during the day causes trouble focusing on important tasks like work, school, and driving. You may frequently feel agitated or quick-tempered further causing relationship problems and activities of daily living.
If you think you are having mental health issues such as depression or anxiety and you snore or feel you have trouble with your sleep be sure to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about having a sleep test.  Your mental health may depend on it.