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Sleep apnea treatment can improve memory and restore brain tissue
Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 2:25 PM
Joined: 12/20/2011
Posts: 217


I've been doing a little research on the possibility of improving memory by treating sleep apnea. I'd appreciate any comments.

There are studies that link sleep apnea to memory loss and dementia.


Some studies find that treatment of sleep apnea can actually restore brain tissue and bring remarkable improvement in gray matter and cognition, in some cases.

"The prevalence of OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] in patients with dementia has been estimated to be as high as 70 to 80 percent."


A commonly recommended treatment for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine which involves wearing a mask while sleeping. Many people find this uncomfortable. 


There are other possible treatments for sleep apnea. Might any of these improve memory? 








Articles about sleep apnea’s link to memory loss and dementia: 


Breathe Deep—Nighttime Oxygen Loss Linked to Dementia


Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults


Study suggests a link between sleep-disordered breathing and later cognitive decline,M1111g


Changes in Cognitive Function Associated with Sleep Disordered Breathing in Older People;jsessionid=70D6636ECA551C556A900FDEF64CED21.d04t02?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage= 







Articles about CPAP treatment restoring brain tissue and improving memory: 


CPAP Therapy Restores Brain Tissue in Adults With Sleep Apnea, Study Finds


Memory Improves After Sleep Apnea Therapy (CPAP)


Obstructive sleep apnea: brain structural changes and neurocognitive function before and after treatment
“After treatment, we observed significant improvements involving memory, attention, and executive-functioning that paralleled gray-matter volume increases in hippocampal and frontal structures.”


Studies about sleep apnea treatment and Alzheimer’s:


Treating Sleep Apnea In Alzheimer's Patients Helps Cognition

Sustained use of CPAP slows deterioration of cognition, sleep, and mood in patients with Alzheimer's disease and obstructive sleep apnea: a preliminary study 



Cognitive effects of treating obstructive sleep apnea in Alzheimer's disease: a randomized controlled study.
“OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] may aggravate cognitive dysfunction in dementia and thus may be a reversible cause of cognitive loss in patients with AD. OSA treatment seems to improve some cognitive functioning.”






Possible alternative treatments for sleep apnea ?



L-tryptophan in the treatment of impaired respiration in sleep
My comment:  Unfortunately, L-tryptophan’s safety became a concern because of past problems with contaminants.  A possible alternative to L-tryptophan is
5-hydroxytryptophan, also called 5-HTP.


Sleep Apnea? Compression Stockings May Help a Lot 
The paper:
"Off-the-shelf thigh length compression stockings exerting an ankle pressure of 20 mmHg or more were fitted according to the subjects’ leg dimensions. The subjects slipped their stockings on immediately after awakening in the morning, wore them throughout the day until bedtime in the evening, when they removed them only after retiring to bed."


Mediterranean Diet and Exercise Can Reduce Sleep Apnea Symptoms



 Other possible treatments for sleep apnea include:

sleep apnea pillows

oral appliances (special mouthpieces worn at night)

nasal devices (special nasal strips or inserts)

bed wedges to prop up the sleeper

weight loss





 More on sleep apnea symptoms, diagnosis and treatment:







Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:32 PM
Joined: 12/5/2011
Posts: 795

Dear onward,


When I was being tested to find out what was wrong with me initally, I had a test for sleep apnea.  Mine was negative.


As you have said, many people with dementia have OSA and wearing their masks improves their quality of life.  Because, they sleep better and go through regular sleep cycles they are better rested and also clearer minded.


Good Luck.


Please, let us know what you decide to do.  Is this for you or a LO?


Peace and Hope,


Lane Simonian
Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:31 AM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5158

This is just an initial observation.  Oxygen deprivation (as occurs with sleep apnea) can cause short-term memory loss by a pathway that largely parallels Alzheimer's disease.


This would explain the role of the Mediterraean diet and exercise in the treatment of both conditions.  Perhaps, chronic sleep apnea either by itself or in conjunction with other risk factors could lead to Alzheimer's disease.   

Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 2:50 PM
Joined: 12/20/2011
Posts: 217

Lisa and Lane, thank you.  (Lisa, to answer your question - no, it's not for me but someone else.)