According to researchers, sleep apnea may lead to degeneration of the brain. People who spend less time in deep sleep do not have enough oxygen in their blood. This can lead to abnormalities in brain tissue linked with development of dementia.
In addition, people who do not get enough deep sleep, also known as slow wave sleep, are more likely to have loss of brain cells than people who spend more time in slow wave sleep.
Study author Rebecca Gelber from the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii suggests that low blood oxygen levels and reduced slow wave sleep may contribute to the processes which leads to cognitive decline and dementia. Slow wave sleep is important in processing new memories and remembering facts.
The study appeared online in the journal, Neurology.