Study Reveals the Effect of Exercise on Sleep Apnea

A recent study conducted through a collaboration of the University of Pittsburgh School of Sleep Medicine, the Mayo Clinic, and the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine of the University of Montreal has revealed a positive link between an increase in physical activity and a reduction in the severity of sleep apnea. This serious sleep disorder, characterized by frequent blockages of the air passage during sleep, can cause chronic fatigue, psychological and emotional issues, and can lead to major systemic illnesses. Dr. James Stewart, your Livonia family dentist, discusses the study’s findings and its implications for sleep apnea sufferers.

Exercise Regularly and See a Reduction in Sleep Apnea Severity

Through the course of the study, participants suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea underwent a sleep study to measure the acuteness of their sleep apnea. Then, they agreed to take brisk 40 minute walks, 4 times per week, for a 12 week period. At the end of the 12 week study, participants underwent another sleep study. On average, participants experienced a 25% decrease in the severity of their sleep apnea. These results correspond to the reduction in severity experienced after some sleep apnea surgeries and after losing a significant amount of weight.

Regular Exercise Improves Your Daytime Function, Too

Not only did participants in the study experience fewer apnea episodes during the night, they also noticed they felt better during the day. All participants reported less daytime fatigue and reduced daytime sleepiness. Moreover, the participants also reported sharper thinking ability and every person said they noticed a significant improvement in their overall quality of life.

Exercise During the Day, Sleep better at Night

Results of the sleep study after 12 weeks of regular exercise also revealed significant improvements in the participants’ quality of sleep. Participants experienced enhanced sleep efficiency, meaning they received a greater amount of total sleep during the night. Additionally, participants enjoyed more time spent in deep sleep. Deep sleep is absolutely necessary to maintain healthy memory and cognitive function.

Start Exercising and Visit Your Dentist

In addition to a program of regular exercise and a healthy diet, your dentist can offer different solutions, including lightweight mouthguards, that help you breath throughout the night. If you think you may be living with sleep apnea, call Dr. Stewart today at (734) 425-4400. We proudly serve patients from Livonia, Novi, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Dearborn, and the surrounding areas.