Amy Poehler (5 feet, 2 inches tall) and Shaquille O'Neal (7 feet, 1 inch tall) see eye to eye on one thing: Sleep apnea can ruin your life if you don't manage it correctly.
Both use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device at night to maintain steady breathing and uninterrupted sleep. Poehler says the therapy "helps you win at life," and Shaq reports that it helps him get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly — improving his energy and letting him manage his weight better.
What they may not know is that taking care of their sleep apnea also protects their brains.
A study that’s slated to be presented virtually at the American Academy of Neurology's 73rd annual meeting this April has found that more than half of its 67 participants, average age 73, who had cognitive problems also suffered from (often undiagnosed) sleep apnea, and 60% of those people scored worse on cognitive tests than participants without the condition.
If your bed partner says that you snore loudly or you stop breathing or gasp for air while sleeping, if you wake up frequently, awaken with a dry mouth, have a morning headache, or are fatigued, irritable, and unfocused during the day, you should get checked for sleep apnea.
If left untreated, the condition can lead to cardiovascular disorders, stroke, and heart failure, as well as memory problems.
On the other hand, people who manage their sleep apnea have more energy and spontaneously do 20% more exercise once it's controlled.