Scientists and researchers have been studying the effects sleeping disorders have on the human body for decades now. And while there’s a lot that we already know about, there’s plenty yet to discover. One of the researchers’ areas of interest is whether there is a connection between sleeping disorders and memory loss.
If this is something you are interested in, then you’re in the right place. Below, you will find information about what sleeping disorders are, the most common ones, and how they are connected to memory loss. So keep on reading!
For more on this topic, check out the full Sleep collection
What Are Sleeping Disorders?
Depending on the type of sleeping disorder a person suffers from, it can be broken down into two groups: primary and secondary.
The most common ones are primary. This includes insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy. Secondary ones include depression, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia. Several disorders fall into the secondary category because they share similar symptoms to primary ones.
[ Read: Sleep Regression ]
Types of Primary Sleep Disorders
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia occurs when a person has trouble falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or both. Insomnia is typically caused by stress, anxiety, depression, or another mental health condition. A person with insomnia will be restless and unable to relax because their mind won’t shut off. Their brain will continue to race with thoughts throughout the night. If you have this sleeping disorder, it’s important to treat its underlying cause before it affects your memory and cognitive functions.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing or breathes very shallowly for short periods during their sleep. Sleep apnea results in oxygen deprivation and interrupted sleep cycles. Those who suffer from this disorder experience extreme fatigue during the day because they don’t get enough restful sleep at night.
[ Read: What to Keep on Your Nightstand to Increase Relaxation ]
What is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a rare disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), sudden sleep attacks, and muscle weakness. Those who suffer from narcolepsy will experience periods of intense drowsiness that come on suddenly. These episodes can last for just a few seconds or several hours – in some cases, even days.
How is sleep deprivation affecting your everyday life? Primary sleep disorders significantly affect the quality of your sleep. Thus, making your everyday life much harder to bear. You might find it hard to concentrate, and your work performance can decrease as well. Additionally, you can feel exhausted and irritated, which may cause problems with friends and family.
The Connection Between Insomnia and Memory Loss
Sleep deprivation caused by insomnia negatively affects cognitive abilities. This means that people find it harder to complete various tasks, focus, or learn. People who have insomnia experience not only problems with sleeping, but also with functioning during the day. Sleep deprivation leads to forgetfulness, health problems and drastically worsens the quality of life. Lack of adequate sleep may lead to depression, and in rare cases, death.
Insomnia is a primary sleep disorder that potentially can lead to other health problems if not treated in time.
The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Memory Loss
One of the symptoms of sleep apnea is called “micro-arousals” – this occurs when a person wakes up briefly throughout the night. These periods of waking are usually short, but they can be long enough to affect your sleep cycle and memory.
The reason why they can cause memory loss is because it takes time for your brain to fall back asleep. If you wake up for long periods of time during the night, you’ll have more trouble falling back asleep than someone who only wakes up one or two times. If this happens often enough throughout the night, it can cause you to sleep fewer hours than you need and leave you feeling very tired in the morning. This can result in memory loss and other cognitive problems like confusion, difficulty concentrating, and decreased alertness.
[ Read: Promoting Healthy Sleep: From Birth to Beyond ]
The Connection Between Narcolepsy and Memory Loss
Studies show that in some cases, people suffering narcolepsy can experience partial seizures during the day that can result in memory loss. In other words, narcolepsy can cause seizures that impair your ability to use memory properly. These seizures can be caused by other factors too. But when narcolepsy is present, it should be considered as one of the potential causes of memory loss.
Because of the fact that narcolepsy is a primary sleeping disorder, this means that it’s possible to develop memory loss and other cognitive problems as well. This is because your cognitive functions are affected by your sleep cycle.
For example, if you suffer from narcolepsy, it’s possible for you to experience memory loss during a period when you have a seizure. This memory loss will typically be short-term – meaning that it will only last for a few hours. However, in some cases, memory loss can be long-term. There have been cases where patients had their memories wiped entirely for several days!
Episodes of confusion or dissociation characterize memory loss that occurs because of narcolepsy. In some cases, patients may not be able to recognize anyone they encounter during these episodes. They may also not remember recent events and might feel like they’re living in a dream world.
Sleeping is one of the essential parts of life. Without enough sleep, your brain works slower, your memory span shortens, and you find it difficult to function throughout the day. Sleeping helps process and store the information gathered during the day. That is why do not let yourself stay late at night and if you experience the above mentioned sleep disorders – consult with your doctor at once.
For more on this topic, check out the full Sleep collection