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What Does Sleep Apnoea Do To Your Brain? Here’s An Analysis Based On An Australian Study

Has it ever happened to you or a loved one that you fell asleep at the steering wheel? This is something Sydney nurse Fran Boyer experienced until she rammed her car into the railings when she fell asleep while driving back home.

Fran Boyer’s case isn’t an isolated incident where the people have dozed off behind the wheel or while watching TV. It is believed that one-quarter of women and half of the men over the age of 50 suffer from sleep apnoea.

What is Sleep Apnoea?

In obstructive sleep apnoea, the throat muscle gets over relaxed and collapses while you sleep. This causes a partial obstruction of the airways, so just a little or no air can get into the lungs. When the breathing pattern becomes interrupted, the brain sends a warning signal making you wake up with a startle. This process of disrupted sleep, when continued hundreds of times over several nights, can lead to poor sleep quality.

Apart from poor-quality sleep, some symptoms include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Reduced breathing
  • Gasping for air
  • Sleepiness during daytime
  • Constant dry mouth
  • Headaches on waking up
  • Reduced concentration
  • Irritability
  • Increased feeling of depression and anxiety

An ongoing study by Sydney’s Woolcock Institute investigates the impacts of sleep apnoea on the brain and uncovered new insights into the brains of people suffering this condition.

What Happens to Your Brain When Your Sleep is Frequently Disrupted in a Night?

The lead researcher of this study Dr. Angela D’Rozario says that when you utilise certain parts of your brain during the day, you need sound sleep to preserve and restore those brain cells. She says that people with this sleep disorder don’t get the sound sleep required for the restorative process.

This eventually slows down the regeneration of the areas of the brain that need daily repair.

Her team fits a 250-electrodes cap to monitor brain activities of people with sleep apnoea by putting them through a difficult driving stimulation. They investigate why people with sleep apnea have serious brain fog and difficulties concentrating on driving.

Correlation Between Sleep Apnea and Road Accidents

Dr D’Rozario believes that the brain’s ability to cope with the lack of good sleep diminishes, and so it tries to balance the deficit throughout the day. She says that neurons go into sleep mode when you are not prepared to physically sleep. According to her, sometimes it isn’t easy to know if people are asleep as their eyes may be partially open.

Allowing people to drive around with certain portions of their brain asleep can pose a serious threat to road safety. An estimate says that around 20% of road accidents are caused due to fatigue, and they are more likely to be fatal than other things.

Lynne Bilston – a senior principal research scientist at Neuroscience Research Australia, believes that it is crucial to understand what goes on in the brains of people having sleep apnoea. According to her, obstructive sleep increases the risk of vehicle crashes by 2.4 times. Moreover, she even stated that the risk of car crashes reduces significantly when people apply for an effective sleep apnoea treatment program.

How Does Home Sleep Study Help You?

If you or a loved one is suffering from poor sleep, contact Home Sleep Studies Australia. We are dedicated to providing the best diagnostic and treatment for sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea.

For the consultation in Melbourne, get in touch with us today. Call us on 03 9908 5800 or email to us at bookings@homesleep.com.au.

We have taken a reference for this blog from here.

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Sleep Questionnaire

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale helps you determine if you possibly suffer from a sleep disorder and its severity. This scale was developed in 1991 by Dr. Murray Johns right here in Melbourne.

Our sleep questionnaire assesses your sleepiness along with some common risks and symptoms to determine your likelihood of a sleep related issue. Complete the questionnaire now and find out if you require a diagnostic sleep study.

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
Sitting and Reading?*

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
Watching TV?*

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
Sitting, inactive in a public place? (e.g. a theatre or a meeting)*

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break?*

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit?*

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
Sitting and talking to someone?*

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol?*

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep:
In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in the traffic?*

Is your waist circumference greater than
102cm (male) or 88cm (female) at the belly button?*

Has your snoring ever bothered other people?*

Has anyone noticed that you stop breathing during your sleep?*

Are you aged 50 or over?*

Analyze your score

Sleepiness Scale

OSA-50 Sleep Apnea
Risk Screening


Thank you for taking the time to complete the online sleep assessment.

Studies have shown that the quality of your sleep can significantly affect our health and our quality of life.

So, if you are concerned about your sleep always be sure to speak with your GP.

If you provide your email address the results of this online sleep assessment will be sent to you directly to discuss with your doctor.

*Please note: To be eligible for the Medicare rebate for a sleep study either home based or in-lab the clinical need for a sleep study requires to be determined by approved sleep assessment tools which can only be administered by a medical practitioner. A referral from a medical practitioner will also be needed.

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