Man crying because he's exhausted from sleep apneaExtremely loud snoring isn’t the only problem associated with sleep apnea (although it is pretty annoying for the person who shares your bed). This dangerous sleep disorder, marked by a complete blockage of the airway during sleep, can prove detrimental to your emotional, physical, and sexual health.

1. You're an Emotional Mess

When you live with chronic exhaustion (a symptom experienced by the vast majority of sleep apnea sufferers), you might find yourself getting overly emotional at the slightest provocation. A sentimental commercial on TV, a brusque client at work, or a conversation about family finances with your spouse might send you into an over-the-top outburst. This phenomenon recently received some scientific support. In an article published in Current Biology, researchers showed that people with sleep deprivation exhibited an average 60% increase in activity in the emotional processing area of the brain when they viewed emotionally charged images. It makes sense, then, that receiving adequate rest can help a sleep apnea sufferer experience a return to healthy, normal emotional responsiveness.

2. You're in Poor Health

The list of chronic and acute health problems caused by untreated sleep apnea is extensive. Just a few problems sleep apnea sufferers frequently experience include:
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • Type II diabetes
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Acid reflux
  • Depression and anxiety
People with sleep apnea are even at a higher risk of getting into car accidents (so much so that truck drivers with diagnosed but untreated sleep apnea cannot qualify for their CDL license). Medical experts point to three factors common to most sleep apnea patients – low blood oxygen, bodily stress, and hormonal fluctuations – that increate he risk of these health problems.

3. You're Killing the Romance

For the moment, let’s set aside the fact that the extremely loud snoring associated with sleep apnea can prove a major turn off to your romantic partner. Sleep apnea can actually lead to a physiological drop in sex drive and normal sexual functioning. The Journal of Sexual Medicine reported in 2011 that female sleep apnea patients experienced a higher rate of sexual dysfunction. In another study, researchers studying patients referred to a sleep clinic showed that just under 70% of male patients diagnosed with sleep apnea at the clinic also had erectile dysfunction.

About Dr. Marco Cueva

Marco Cueva, DDS, MS is a board-certified periodontist with extensive training and experience providing a variety of sleep apnea treatment options, including oral appliances and surgical solutions. New patients can schedule an appointment with Periodontic Excellence at our Allen, TX dental office by calling 972-390-9944.