Authored by Revere Health

5 Negative Effects of Sleep Apnea

July 31, 2018 | Sleep MedicineValue-Based Care

Sleep apnea is a common condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep and affects over 18 million American adults. People with sleep apnea experience disturbed sleep and lowered oxygen levels, which can lead to financial, social and health complications.

1. Higher healthcare costs

Because sleep apnea increases the risk of other health problems, people with undiagnosed or uncontrolled sleep apnea tend to need more healthcare services. In fact, researchers estimate sleep apnea and its complications account for $30 billion in healthcare and medication costs. They also estimate that diagnosing and treating all American adults with sleep apnea could produce a potential savings of over $100 billion.

2. Lost productivity

Untreated sleep apnea affects your cognitive function, decision-making ability, memory, motor skills and processing speed. All of these factors can impair your ability to focus on tasks or remember specific information. It also leads to increased absence from work.

3. Increased risk of mental health problems

Sleep deprivation affects our mental health in many ways. A lack of sleep can influence your mood and psychological health and, alternately, those with existing mental health conditions are more likely to experience sleep disorders. Sleep apnea is a common culprit of sleep deprivation and has been linked to depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and ADHD.

4. Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents

Sleep deprivation and alcohol have similar effects on the body. Just like drunk driving, drowsy driving is extremely dangerous and can lead to motor vehicle accidents. Studies show that the rate of vehicle crashes is at least double in patients with sleep apnea.

5. Higher likelihood of health complications

Sleep apnea can increase your risk of multiple health conditions including:

  • Asthma: a chronic lung disease that inflames the airways, causing difficulty breathing
  • Atrial fibrillation: abnormal, rapid and disorganized heart beats
  • Cancer: such as pancreatic, renal and skin cancers
  • Hypertension: also called high blood pressure, sleep apnea is an independent risk factor for hypertension
  • Chronic kidney disease: a gradual loss of kidney function that can lead to kidney failure
  • Heart disease: cardiac arrest, coronary artery disease and heart failure are more common in patients with sleep apnea
  • Stroke: damage to the brain caused by insufficient blood supply from the heart
  • Diabetes: sleep apnea is associated with insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes
  • Pregnancy complications: these include gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension and a low birth weight

If you notice signs of sleep apnea, contact your doctor. Properly managed sleep apnea can maintain a higher quality of life and reduce potential healthcare costs.

Our physicians and technicians work with your primary care physician to diagnose a variety of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. If you are experiencing symptoms that relate to a disorder, such as daytime sleepiness or irregular sleep patterns, our center can help you explore a variety of options.


“Sleep Apnea.” National Sleep Foundation.

“Economic burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea in U.S. is nearly $150B per year.” American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“Could Sleep Apnea Be Tanking Your Daytime Productivity?” Huffington Post.

“Sleep and Mental Health.” Harvard Medical School.

“Sleep Apnea.” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

“Clinical consequences and economic costs of untreated obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.” US National Library of Medicine.

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The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.