Does Sleep Apnea Lead to Age Acceleration?

Undiagnosed sleep apnoea is definitely linked to accelerated aging. Untreated obstructive sleep apnoea and other sleep-disorders associated with breathing problems will and can accelerate aging, according to a new study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The information gathered showed that several chronic conditions, where there is repeated partial or complete obstruction of the airway, that interrupts sleep throughout the night is linked to accelerated aging. What comes part and parcel with that is that they identified aging of the DNA within cells.

Does Sleep Apnea Lead to Age Acceleration

The changes appear to be happening within the cells, and could heighten risk of aging problems like functional decline, dementia, and also certain cancers.  Sleep Apnoea has been linked to a multitude of health problems and complications, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnoea, which affects millions of adults worldwide.

Age and Sleep Apnoea

Although obstructive sleep apnoea can develop in any person at any age, there are certain age groups that are at a higher risk for sleep apnoea, and other age groups in which the cause of the obstruction, and subsequent treatments, may differ.

Discussion with sleep apnoea diagnosis and treatment is generally based on the age groups ranging from middle aged to the elderly. However, one of the main reasons that elderly patients are diagnosed less often with OSA is because they present less symptoms than the traditional examples for sleep apnoea.

Traditional risk factors such as obesity, neck circumference, BMI, and snoring are less prevalent among the elderly leading to diagnostic challenges for healthcare professionals.

The association between OSA and other medical conditions such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, stroke, coronary artery disease, and atrial fibrillation makes getting elderly patients properly diagnosed a major priority. These are among the leading causes of death in this portion of the population.

So, is accelerated aging in men more likely than women?

It would appear to be the opposite. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea May Speed Up Aging, Especially in Women

In women apnoea-hypopnea index (AHI) score was associated with greater age acceleration according to the DNA equivalent to 215 days of biological age according to a new Harvard study, you could be trimming considerable time off your life if you are living with untreated sleep apnoea.

As you know, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a breathing disorder that occurs while you sleep. It blocks your airways, limits the oxygen to your brain, and has been closely linked to a variety of health issues such as high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and depression. It’s no wonder that it may also shorten your life.

A study, recently published in the health journal Sleep, confirmed untreated sleep apnoea disrupts the circadian rhythms necessary for a good night’s sleep. A circadian rhythm is roughly a 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, but they also found something somewhat unexpected.

The DNA in the cells of those who leave their sleep apnoea untreated was aging faster than it should. As DNA ages, cells begin to break down, and the health risks for cancer and chronic disease adds up. Many of these diseases, including untreated sleep apnoea, have the potential to shorten your lifespan.

“Although there is no cure for sleep apnoea, recent studies show that successful treatment can reduce the risk of heart and blood pressure problems.” – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

What to Do If You Suspect You Have Sleep Apnoea

If you suspect you have untreated sleep apnoea, don’t delay in speaking with your doctor. Check out the following suggestions:

1. Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol may seem like it will help you sleep, but it has the opposite effect and will disrupt your sleep cycle. Alcohol will also relax your muscles, making sleep apnoea more likely.

2. Try new exercises. Recommended oral exercises help reduce sleep apnoea symptoms.

3. Try a new pillow. If your pillow is too high or you have trouble finding a comfortable sleep position, this can make symptoms worse.

4. Get informed now about untreated sleep apnoea life expectancy. As has been discussed it is a major threat to longevity. Know how obstructive sleep apnoea impacts your health and learn how much better you can feel once you have control.

5. The number of people with obstructive sleep apnoea has steadily increased over the last two decades. The disorder affects over 100 million people globally and is estimated to be undiagnosed 80-90% of the time. Obesity and advanced age, which have been reported as risk factors, are also on the rise. Scientists are concerned because sleep apnoea may reduce a person’s life span by aggravating several cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

6. By following this advice, we firmly believe that by treating or slowing obstructive sleep apnoea progression, we will not only improve a patients’ quality of life, but also delay health issues related to aging.

7. Sleep apnoea can strike individuals of all ages, sexes, and body types, but people who are smokers, who are obese, older, male, or postmenopausal are most at risk. Often mistaken for snoring, sleep apnoea patients choke or gasp during sleep when the airways tighten.


Low oxygen to the brain jolts the person awake in an attempt to normalize blood oxygen levels. The episodes last from a few seconds to minutes and can occur over 30 times an hour. The disorder is commonly treated with a CPAP machine, which pushes air into the airway so that it stays open throughout the night.

8. Left untreated, sleep apnoea can cause several problems associated with poor sleep quality. Patients with the disorder report daytime fatigue, morning headaches, and memory or concentration issues.

As mankind progresses, we have managed to lengthen life expectancy by means of medicine and science. The next step in understanding sleep apnoea in the future will be to dissect different sub types of sleep apnoea.

Likely recognizing types by distinct pathophysiological mechanisms which may lead to different outcomes and predispositions to the presence of one or more additional conditions occurring together,

As human life expectancy increases, delaying the onset of age-related diseases becomes critical to our society.

Does Sleep Apnoea Lead to Age Acceleration? The answer is yes.

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