Sleep Apnea Home > Effects of Sleep Apnea

Some of the effects of sleep apnea include feeling very sleepy and having difficulty concentrating. In some cases, the effects can be more detrimental, such as depression, irritability, and falling asleep during the day. If a person has sleep apnea, the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke also increases.

An Introduction to Sleep Apnea and Its Effects

During the pauses in breathing that occur in someone with sleep apnea, the oxygen levels in the blood drop. The brain reacts to the drop in oxygen by waking the person up enough to resume breathing (and snoring), but not necessarily enough to fully awaken the person. The cycle of snoring, not breathing, waking, and resuming breathing means that a person with sleep apnea does not get good quality sleep. Because of this, he or she may often:
  • Feel very sleepy during the day
  • Find it hard to concentrate
  • Notice that his or her daytime performance is suffering.

Specific Effects of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can also cause detrimental effects that range from annoying to life threatening. These effects can include:
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Falling asleep while at work, on the phone, or driving.
People with severe sleep apnea are two to three times more likely to have automobile crashes. The risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke also increase if a person has sleep apnea.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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