Sleep apnea can cause a well-known variety of debilitating—even life-threatening—symptoms, and a new study suggests that it may be producing yet another serious effect. Preliminary research recently unveiled at “Sleep 2019: 33rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies” found that the nightly sleep interruptions resulting from sleep-disordered breathing, or SDB, may be accelerating the aging process. 

Individuals with sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing may experience multiple, extended breathing pauses throughout the night. In the study, many patients with increasingly severe levels of SDB and sleep disruption were found to have greater epigenetic (which is defined as “arising from or relating to non-genetic influences”) age acceleration. Researchers found that this association was even stronger in women, potentially even in those who had less severe sleep-disordered breathing than men. Xiaoyu Li, ScD of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital told Medscape Medical News that the findings could put a spotlight on the potential for SDB treatment to address a number of age-related conditions in women. A spokesperson from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine also noted that the study can be used as another tool of encouragement for individuals who suffer from sleep-disordered breathing to undergo treatment for this very serious condition. 

Fortunately, as an active member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, I make the treatment of sleep apnea a strong focus of my practice. We offer a number of advanced sleep apnea treatment options, including non-invasive oral appliances, designed to help patients significantly reduce the symptoms and risks associated with this common condition. Please reach out to our office for more information, or to schedule a consultation. 

Thanks for visiting! 🙂

Dr. Edward Shukovsky