The REAL Effects of Poor Sleep

Written by Allison Bordewick on

How bad does Angelina Jolie really look first  thing in the morning? Beauty is in the eye of the  beholder, so don’t look for any scientific  studies  on the concept of “beauty sleep.” You could ask  Brad Pitt, but he may be biased.

While beauty sleep may be difficult to prove,  researchers have been investigating the  physiological effects of poor sleep for decades    now.  Beyond mere insomnia, researchers are particularly concerned with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition where breathing  pauses during  sleep due to a narrowed or partly blocked airway. Study results have poured in, and at this point, the proper question is  what is not affected by  poor sleep.

A short list of the well known conditions made better by continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), the gold standard therapy for  treating OSA, includes: high blood pressure; obesity; organ function.; and blood flow to the brain. Reporter Alice Park in Time  Magazine put it this way: “If every one of us slept as much as we’re supposed to, we’d all be lighter, less prone to developing Type 2  diabetes and most likely better equipped to battle depression and anxiety. We might even lower our risk of Alzheimer’s disease,  osteoporosis and cancer.”

No matter the age, researchers are finding that CPAP therapy is effective. Previous studies established the benefits of CPAP in middle-  aged people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but until now there has been no research on whether the treatment is useful and  cost-effective for older patients.

New research published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine found that CPAP reduces how sleepy patients feel in the daytime and reduces health care costs. Researchers say CPAP should be offered routinely to older patients with OSA, and more should be done to raise awareness of the condition. And by the way, those jet-set retirees should find a light and portable CPAP to take on trips, because consistency is key to good therapy.

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