Sleep Apnea and Osteo… huh?


Real talk: We all know how important and vital sleep is for a person. Without it most people cannot perform daily tasks, no matter how simple it may be. Newborns sleep for most of the day; kids (depending on their age) need about 9-15 hours of sleep, teenagers need about 8-10 hours of sleep, and adults need about 7-9 hours. If we do not get enough sleep, we become sluggish, pretty much useless (depending on how sleep deprived we are), and can endanger not only ourselves, but others as well.


It is vital that we get enough sleep in order to preform our day to day tasks – driving (safely if I may add! We do not want anyone to fall asleep behind the wheel!), etc. It is also important that we get enough sleep to allow our bodies to rest and recover from the day that we have had. For some, that may mean recovering from a day of hard labor, physically exhausting the body, and for others that may mean recovering from a day of mental exhaustion. Either way, we need to allow a set amount of time for our mind and bodies to rest from the strenuous activity that it has endured.

At the end of a long day, I want nothing more then to go home and get a goodnight’s rest – as I am sure everyone else does too. For those suffering some sleep apnea, this is easier said than done. With this sleep order, patients tend to also suffer from other health related issues like high blood pressure, and the chances of a stroke, cardiovascular and neurological problems increase. After doing some reading, I found that there seems to be a relationship between your bones and your sleep. Meaning, elderly patients that suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to develop some sort of bone issues in the future – a fracture, osteoporosis, or osteoarthritis.

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease found in the elderly – it is when bone density is reduced which causes the bone to become brittle and weak. The most common way to diagnosis osteoporosis is with a bone density test. A normal or healthy bone structure will resemble that off a honeycomb, meaning that the ‘holes’ that form the bone tissue is formed tightly together. An unhealthy structure will show that the ‘holes’ are much bigger in size due to the loss of tissue, and this is what causes the bone to become brittle and more likely to break.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common form of arthritis, but RA is typically classified as an auto-immune disease. If a patient has RA it means that the their body is mistaking the healthy bone tissue as something that should not be there, a foreign object or a threat, if you will, and will try to get it out of the system; this results in pain, swelling, and eventually bone loss. Osteoarthritis is another form of arthritis that will lead to the inflammation and discomfort of the joints, but this is caused through physical wear and tear, which is what differentiates it from RA.

Now while scientist have found a relationship between sleep apnea and bone loss and arthritis, they are not 100% sure of why the relationship exists in the first place. They do, however, have a few theories…

The first has to do with oxygen deprivation. When a patient suffers from sleep apnea, it essentially means that said person stops breathing for a short period of time while sleeping. When the patient’s oxygen levels drop (caused by the short pause in breathing) it can cause inflammation, which then increases the amount of acidity within the bones. That acidity then promotes bone loss.

Another theory pertains to not achieving quality sleep. Those who suffer from sleep apnea hardly ever achieve deep sleep (or REM sleep). Deep sleep is where the body fully comes to rest and goes into repair mode. This causes an imbalance in the patient’s metabolism which can then least to bone loss.

There are many other health risks that can occur due to sleep apnea, so the first step is getting diagnosed. If you think that you are suffering from sleep apnea then the best thing to do is to speak with your physician. Once diagnosed, you can take further steps to better your health – getting set up with an oral appliance or maybe even a CPAP machine.


More indepth information can be found here:


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