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Cognitive Performance


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In the final area of study as reported in the Medscape article “Sleep Disorders: Impact on Daytime Functioning and Quality of Life,” the participants were asked to comment on the effects their sleep apnea had on their cognitive performance.


  • How effective is your decision making skills?
  • What do you remember after attending a business meeting?
  • How well you both initiate instructions and follow them?
  • How do you relate to members in your families, your coworkers and customers in your business?
  • Are your ideas well understood in your dealings with family and coworkers?
  • Do you avoid social opportunities because of some cognitive impairment that might be related to your sleep apnea?


Participants in the study admitted to:


  • Decreased attention and vigilance
  • Impaired memory and learning
  • Psychomotor and executive dysfunction


Decreased attention and vigilance is also a leading cause in automobile accidents. In the United States, approximately 800,000 drivers are involved in OSA-related collisions with an estimated total cost of 1400 lives each year. A report released in 2010 from the Sleep Medicine division of the Harvard Medical School entitled, “The Price of Fatigue: the surprising costs of unmanaged sleep apnea” estimates that cost to be $65 billion to $165 billion annually.


Astounding numbers to be sure, but again, it’s the personal issues that drive a person to seek treatment. It was for personal reasons that my patient Gina came to me to seek treatment.


For years, she believed that she might have sleep apnea because her husband told her that she snored and he observed that she stopped breathing during sleep. But it was an episode at work that caused her to finally deal with her issues.


In a late afternoon meeting, her boss asked her to comment on an issue before the gathering. She didn’t respond at first, she told me, because she hadn’t heard her name being called. So he asked her again. This time she was startled to hear her name be called. She had to have her boss repeat the question again.


She admitted to me to being tired and felt that she may have fallen asleep during the meeting, but did not realize it. It was her embarrassment before her boss and the potential fallout from this experience that finally motivated her to seek treatment.


I would you like to invite you to take a moment and reflect on your quality of life. Deciding to get your sleep apnea treated is about choosing happiness. It’s really about finding happiness in the many aspects of your life and being fully involved with every detail of your life, whether good or bad.

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