When you sleep, your brain’s glymphatic (waste clearance) system clears out waste from the central nervous system. It removes toxic byproducts from your brain, which builds up throughout the day. This allows your brain to work well when you wake up.
Research has shown that when the toxic by-products [amyloid beta] is no longer properly cleared from the brain, it accumulates and may lead to neurodegeneration long before the first symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease become visible.
An estimated 50 million people worldwide have dementia, and the annual rate of new cases is just short of 10 million. About 60–70 percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s, which is a relentless brain-wasting disease wherein toxic proteins build up in the brain.
Low blood oxygen levels during sleep are tied to reduced thickness of the brain’s right and left temporal lobes. These brain structures are vital for memory and are known to change in dementia.
Multiple studies have demonstrated the relationship between sleep and memory function, particularly memory processing and consolidation, and have established that a lack of quality sleep causes not only memory loss but also structural damage to the brain.
It's no surprise then that many of those with OSA who suffer fragmented sleep and intermittent hypoxia report memory loss among their symptoms.
Furthermore, the presence of sleep-related breathing disorders such as OSA has been associated with the onset of cognitive decline at an earlier age 20 as well as the worsening of and possibly even the pathogenesis of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Fortunately, the effective treatment of sleep disordered breathing may delay the progression of cognitive impairment.
Proper Brain Function
Brain plasticity theory reveals how sleep contributes to proper brain function. Healthy sleep allows neurons to reorganize.
Healthy sleep is necessary for emotional health. During sleep, specific regions of the brain are actively regulating emotion while supporting healthy brain function and emotional stability.
Every cell in your body is designed to restore itself. This happens during deep, restful sleep.
The energy conservation theory reveals how our bodies conserve energy during sleep by enabling our body to reduce our caloric requirements.
Heart Health Energy Conservation
Cellular Restoration, Brain Function
Proper Insulin Function
Sleep affects your weight by controlling hunger hormones. Specific hormones including ghrelin, which increases appetite, and leptin, which increases the feeling of being full after eating, are regulated during sleep.
Proper Insulin Function
Some studies suggest sleep may protect against insulin resistance. By keeping cells healthy they are able to process glucose more efficiently. The brain also requires less glucose while sleeping, which may help the body regulate overall blood glucose.
Your body makes cytokines during sleep. Cytokines are special proteins that fight infection and inflammation. Certain antibodies and immune cells are also created during healthy sleep. These molecules help defend against illness by destroying harmful germs.
Interrupted or unhealthy sleep has also been linked to risk factors which impact overall heart health. These include hypertension, overactive sympathetic nervous system activity and elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.