Australian specialists and scientists carry on studying human sleep patterns and discovering new things about possible risks linked to having troubled nights on a regular basis. According to a new research, such symptoms as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances can be connected with graduate brain damage and brain shrinkage. The study was carried out by a group of Australian sleep physicians from Austin Health Center in Melbourne, leaded by Fergal O’Donoghue.
Using high-tech imagery technologies, the specialists analyzed brain scans of a large group of the participants, some of which were normal sleepers, and some suffered from regular snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. After comparing the scans of the participants, it turned out that those who have troubled sleep on a regular basis have certain differences in two brain areas: in particular, around those ones which are responsible for human memory and our physical movement control.
It was actually left unclear, if it is sleep apnea that caused brain changes, or vice-versa. Specialists tend to believe that the connections between sleep disorder causing brain shrinkage are more likely to take place, but it is also clear that these types of sleep patterns can cause serious risks to snorer’s health and life. “These were patients with very severe decreases in oxygen levels during the night, and we know from animal studies that if you subject them to drops in oxygen levels, they do develop changes in brain structure,” O’Donoghue says.
Snoring and sleep apnea are among very common conditions for toady’s Australian society as they are very frequently associated with overweight and obesity. According to O’Donoghue, about 90% of cases are undiagnosed. At the same time, another research of Australian sleep experts at Sydney University has shown that those people who suffer from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea have three times higher risks of atherosclerosis caused by damaged artery walls. These findings of Australian sleep specialists were recently presented at the Australian Sleep Conference in Christchurch.