Can Restricted Breathing Lead To Cognitive Decline?

Can Restricted Breathing Lead To Cognitive Decline?


Latest data from a research study which was published by the University of California and comprising of up to 4.2 million people suggests that those people who have restricted airways which can lead to breathing problems during their sleep can be at a heightened risk of cognitive decline.

In fact, the increased risk of developing cognitive impairment was 26% higher for those adults who suffered from night time breathing problems.

This is particularly important as it may be an accurate way to help prevent diseases such as dementia in people as they age.

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This is particularly helpful because the root of the cause (sleep-disorder breathing) of potential dementia is treatable.

Night time breathing difficulties are known as apnea which can be brought on bya number of factors but either people who are older or obese are at a higher risk. It is a condition whereby the breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

The whole breath (no pun intended) of analysis also included a number of smaller studies, whereby, in some cases the risk of cognitive decline when associated with apnea could be up to 86%.

Further insight in to the wider range of smaller studies provided an average of 35% increase of cognitive impairment for those people who suffered from apnea.

With dementia aside, those who suffer from apnea also scored less in their ability to focus, plan, pay attention, multi task and follow instructions.

However, memory function did not appear to be affected.


It is possible thought that with reduced airflow over a long period of time could limit the oxygen reaching the brain and thus lead to brain injuries which would then lead to cognitive decline.

There also appears to be a triangular link between apnea, obesity and cognitive impairment.

In which case, weight loss strategies incorporating a healthy diet and more exercise should be implemented to reduce the risk of future cognitive decline.


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Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.

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