Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. One of the most obvious effects of CPAP treatment is reduced snoring. But there are many more health benefits that aren’t so easy to see—or hear.
1. You’ll feel more awake and alert.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes you to lose sleep or not get restful sleep. CPAP therapy stops many of the breathing problems that interrupt your rest, so you feel more refreshed when you wake. Getting more rest can also help you concentrate at work, keep your energy up through the day, and even help reduce your risk of depression.
2. You’re less likely to get into a car accident.
The sleepiness that goes along with sleep apnea can affect more than your mood—it can affect your ability to drive a car. Driving while tired is akin to driving after having a few drinks, according to studies. Those same studies also found CPAP treatment greatly reduces your risk of getting in a motor vehicle accident brought on by exhaustion.
3. You may be able to get high blood pressure under control.
A growing number of studies link high blood pressure to sleep apnea. Among people with hard-to-treat hypertension, more than 70% have sleep apnea. Sticking with CPAP treatment, however, has been shown to help these people get their blood pressure under control in a significant way.
4. You could lower your risk of stroke.
Sleep apnea is a risk factor of stroke. While there hasn’t been much research into whether CPAP therapy specifically prevents a first stroke, several studies have shown it significantly reduces the likelihood of having a second stroke. Still, the American Heart Association says it’s reasonable to think CPAP use could help stave off a first stroke.
5. You can reduce your risk of other cardiovascular problems.
In addition to high blood pressure and stroke, sleep apnea is linked to a number of heart-related conditions including:
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
- Bradycardia (slow heart beat)
- Coronary artery disease (also known as heart disease)
- Heart failure
Treating your sleep apnea with CPAP therapy can prevent or control many of these problems.
6. You might keep your mind sharper for longer.
A 2011 study found, for the first time, sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) can contribute to cognitive impairment and dementia. Since then, more reports have come out showing CPAP therapy for SDB can potentially delay the onset of mild cognitive impairment. And among patients with Alzheimer’s disease, CPAP has been found to stave off cognitive decline.
7. You could improve your sex life.
Erectile dysfunction affects about 12% of men under age 60 and between 20% and 30% of men older than age 60. It’s also closely linked with sleep apnea. But research has shown treating sleep apnea with CPAP therapy may help some men regain their normal sexual function.