In a recent study, it has been discovered that sleep apnea may be even more dangerous than was previously thought, and that loud snoring may weaken the skull.
This may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but there is actually more to it than just conjecture.
We all know that obstructive sleep apnea increases our risk for all kinds of different medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
And up until now, researchers thought that most of this was related directly to sleep loss. But as it turns out, Sleep Apnea may be playing an even bigger role than that.
Yes, as it turns out, sleep apnea may indeed be making people’s skulls thinner—and that is a much more dangerous problem than you may think.
Here is what you need to know.
The Basics: Loud Snoring May Weaken the Skull… and No, This Is Not Just a Myth
Dailymail.co.uk actually covered this story pretty well in this post. But here are the main points of the story that are important to understand.
First of all, a recent study in the United States is what led to the discovery. The study was conducted by researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, and it was authored by a doctor by the name of Dr. Rick Nelson. The findings have since been published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head And Neck Surgery.
Dr. Rick Neslon was officially quoted as saying this in reference to the study.
“Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may mechanistically contribute to the development of disorders related to skull thinning, such as sCSF-L.”
Basically, researchers conducted the study by scanning the skulls of 114 people. 56 of these participants had already been diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea, and they were all between the ages of 40 and 60.
What they discovered was that people who snored loudly and suffer from sleep apnea tend to have weaker, thinner skulls than their non-snoring counterparts. In fact, the skulls of those who suffered from snoring and/or sleep apnea tended to be up to 1.23 millimeters thinner!
Why Is This a Problem?
The biggest problem here is that skull erosion of 1 millimeter is enough to cause a cerebrospinal fluid leak, also called sCSF-L. The danger of a cerebrospinal fluid leak is that it can cause a drop in the fluid that protects the brain and spinal cord. People who suffer from sCSF-L also tend to be obese, are usually middle-aged, and can be at a seriously increased risk for problems like a stroke, a coma, or sometimes even death… if a tear near the brain happens to occur and too much liquid is lost.
Tears like this can happen during every day occurrences, such as while lifting things, stretching, riding a roller coaster, falling, or even playing sports.
What the study basically found was that people who suffer from sleep apnea tend to have thinner skulls than those who do not snore, which means that people who suffer from sleep apnea are also much more likely to develop sCSF-L at some point.
It is not always a big problem, but it certainly adds to the growing pool of extra issues that people with sleep apnea need to worry about.
It is also closely linked to dementia risk, and is another reason to treat snoring and sleep apnea early—before they get out of hand and ruin your quality of sleep any more than they already have.
Researchers said that they are not sure why snorers have thinner skulls than non-snorers. Hopefully, future studies will reveal more information about this.