Sleep apnea has built quite the list of negative health effects. The latest may be that it accelerates the aging process.
Thankfully, the same study found that using a CPAP machine for at least four hours per night for a year could potentially slow or reverse those effects.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where the upper airway becomes blocked during sleep. It leads to breathing problems and an inability to remain asleep. It’s associated with a host of potential health problems.
CPAP machines are a common and effective treatment. They are masks that supply Continuous Positive Airway Pressure for uninterrupted breathing, and therefore, sleep.
The new study looked at sleep apnea’s impact on epigenetic age acceleration, which simply means having a biological age older than chronological age. It is linked to chronic disease and early mortality.
The results noted that sleep apnea speeds up the aging process through oxidative stress and inflammation. However, using a CPAP machine appeared to both slow and reverse these effects.
Of course, how do you even know if you have sleep apnea? For those who sleep beside a partner, it’s much easier. If they consistently inform you of heavy snoring, or that it sounds like you are regularly gasping for air, it’s definitely worth a sleep exam.
If you sleep alone, pay attention to how you feel during the day. Do you feel well-rested upon waking, or are you fatigued and lethargic throughout the day? You could also consider any other health conditions you’re living with, like high blood pressure or obesity. Those feelings and conditions could be indications of sleep apnea, so speak to your doctor about booking a sleep test.
More research needs to be done, but it does seem to make sense that better sleep can promote better health and fight accelerated aging.