Why Joe Rogan Is Right About Sleep Apnea

In a video titled "Sleep Apnea Will Ruin Your Life!", Joe Rogan, an American podcaster, discusses all the negative ways sleep apnea can affect your life. He is right - sleep apnea is indeed a condition that can have severe negative health impacts, and is commonly overlooked. In this blog post, we will understand what sleep apnea is, the symptoms of sleep apnea and the potential health implications if left untreated.
Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Neuroscientist at the University Of Cambridge.

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Sleep Apnea: An overview

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It can lead to various health complications if left untreated.

It's crucial to seek medical advice if you experience symptoms such as loud snoring, abrupt awakenings followed by shortness of breath, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses are called episodes, and an episode of sleep apnea can significantly disrupt your sleep by stopping your breathing for a certain amount of time [1, 2].

During an episode of sleep apnea, the muscles in your throat relax, causing you to stop breathing [2]. The pauses can be caused by airway occlusion, known as obstructive sleep apnea, or altered control of breathing, referred to as central sleep apnea [1]. In fact, the most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea [3].

Signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, gaps in breathing, choking or gasping for air, and excessive daytime sleepiness [4].

Sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. For instance, it may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, metabolic issues, and other health problems [2].

Interestingly, around 2-4% of the middle-aged population has sleep apnea, and it is more prevalent in men compared to women [5].

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Sleep Quality?

The most common form of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, can significantly impact the quality of sleep. Although sleep quality is a subjective matter and it is highly dependent upon how individuals perceive their sleep, it can be somewhat objective. For instance, the feeling of being refreshed upon waking and also the continuity of sleep are key determinants of perceived sleep quality [6].

A study found that the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score (a test assessing sleep quality) is higher in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, indicating lower sleep quality [7].

To help people with sleep apnea achieve better sleep quality, continuous positive airway pressure is being used as a common treatment [8]. It has been shown to improve sleep efficiency and also to reduce sleep fragmentation [8]. That being said, the impact of continuous positive airway pressure varies among individuals. For some people, it is beneficial and helps increase sleep duration, while others may see a decrease [8].

However, these subjective evaluations may not always align with objective measures of sleep quality or the presence of sleep disorders [9].

Let’s see what Medisearch says:

Your healthcare provider should consider both objective and subjective measures to assess the quality of your sleep when dealing with sleep apnea.

What Are The Implications Of Bad Sleep?

As mentioned, sleep apnea may reduce the quality of your sleep and in some cases can even cause insomnia. Let’s now consider what the implications of bad sleep are and how it affects your daily life.

Poor sleep quality can affect your health in both physical and mental health. As such, one of the immediate consequences of poor sleep is fatigue, which can lead to irritability, daytime dysfunction, and slowed responses. Altogether, this can affect your daily activities and productivity [10]. Sleep apnea may also cause anxiety. However, it is unclear whether anxiety can cause sleep apnea.

In the long term, poor sleep may contribute to the development of serious health conditions. It has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and even certain types of cancer [11].

Sleep disruptions can lead to increased stress responsivity, emotional distress, and mood disorders. In adolescents, poor sleep may impact psychological health, school performance, and risk-taking behaviors [11].

In conclusion, the implications of poor sleep are far-reaching, affecting various aspects of an individual's life. It is therefore crucial to prioritize good sleep hygiene for overall health and well-being.

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Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Frederika is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she investigates new biomarkers for Frontotemporal Dementia and other tauopathies. Her research has been published at prestigious conferences such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. She obtained her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL, where she worked closely with the UK Dementia Research Institute.