Originally at: https://www.sleepdallas.com/blog/sleepapneaandaging/
Nearly 30 million adults in the United States experience disturbances in their sleep cycles as a direct result of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition marked by pauses in breathing during sleep. With many cases remaining undiagnosed and untreated, this sleep disorder poses a major threat to the overall health of affected individuals – including causing their cells to age more rapidly.
While sleep apnea tends to target older adults, men, postmenopausal women, and those who smoke or struggle with obesity, it does not discriminate and manages to affect a wide range of individuals. A variety of factors, including lifestyle and environment, determine the risk of developing sleep apnea. Additionally, research links sleep apnea to a number of health complications within a multitude of individuals such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. Snoring, sometimes accompanied by choking sounds or pauses in breathing, as well as symptoms of sleep deprivation during the day signal that sleep apnea may be impeding on not only your rest but also your overall health. New research indicates that the myriad of disruptive symptoms related to untreated sleep apnea may now include accelerated cell aging, especially in women.
The Connection Between Aging and Sleep Apnea
In 2019 Harvard University conducted a study investigating the relationship between epigenetic age acceleration (early aging of DNA within the cells) and sleep-disordered breathing among 622 adults. The research consisted of polysomnography (a sleep study) and “DNA methylation [in which] a marker for epigenetic age acceleration was measured in blood samples.”
The study concludes that severe sleep-disordered breathing correlates with early aging of DNA within cells. Further, the results found that out of all sleep-related conditions causing airway blockage in the throat, the number of obstructive sleep apnea cases outnumbered all other chronic sleep disorder occurrences. This comes as especially unfavorable news for women, who demonstrated stronger associations between their sleep disorders and epigenetic age accelerations than their male counterparts, despite typically exhibiting lower sleep disorder related health risks.
According to the lead author of the study, the correct treatment of conditions like sleep apnea can not only help improve health and decrease the risk of developing other serious health conditions, but can also reverse the consequences of epigenetic age acceleration. The sooner that individuals receive a sleep apnea diagnosis, the sooner they can begin combating the wide range of health issues, including premature aging, that accompany obstructive sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Multiple variations of sleep apnea wreak havoc on sleep cycles, the most common of which is obstructive sleep apnea. Individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea experience episodes …