CMHA Mental Health Week: Sleep Apnea Affects Mood and Memory

Happy Mental Health Week, Sleepy Yetis! 

Today marks the start of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Mental Health Week. From May 6-12th, 2019, CMHA encourages Canadians to come together and talk about mental health. In honor of this week, I thought I'd touch on the effects untreated sleep apnea can have on your mental health.

Sleep apnea affects many aspects of your health overall, but the mental health symptoms can be some of the most damaging to your quality of life. I know that before I went on CPAP, my low energy took a toll on my overall well-being. Studies have even shown that sleep apnea has affects brain function. 

Sleep Apnea Affects Neurotransmitter Levels 

A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research measured levels of the neurotransmitters, glutamate, an excitatory, and  gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a mood regulator. The study found sleep apnea sufferers have an abnormal gap between the neurotransmitter levels, with high glutamate and low GABA. 

Structural Changes in the Brain

Excessive glutamate levels can cause brain damage, as the neurotransmitter acts as a stressor on the brain. The drop in GABA may also indicate a reorganization of the brain's functioning caused by sleep apnea.  

Mood Effects 

These changes may be behind some of the sleep apnea symptoms that most interfere with sufferers daily lives. These symptoms include trouble concentrating, higher stress levels, poor-decision making and depression. 


This study highlights the importance of treating sleep apnea.  Future research will focus on whether CPAP therapy regulates a patient's neurotransmitter levels back to normal. 

Sleep apnea is serious business my Yetis! Take some time this mental health week to consider whether sleep apnea, or any other aspect of your life, may be affecting your mental well being. And know this Yeti wishes you the best quality of life possible!