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Brain Fog
Hi all,

I'm hoping some of you with similar experience can help me out. For the last few years I've had what I can only describe as a constant "brain fog". I typically feel out of it all of the time, in kind of a dazed state, just going through the motions. It's like my brain is operating at half speed. Sometimes I'll just find myself starting off at nothing, with my eyes unfocused, in the middle of the day. I've never fallen asleep unexpectedly, and feel more dazed/lethargic than classicly tired. These symptoms have really affected me, to the point I would say i'm moderately depressed. I feel like the depression would go away if my brain would just wake up!

I've had tons of tests and can't find a physiological cause. I just had an at home sleep study performed that indicated I have moderate sleep apnea.

My AHI was 19 - from what I remember about 1/3 apneas and 2/3 hypopneas. According to standard guidance, this is just over what is considered "mild". I was actually kind of disappointed that the result wasn't higher, as that would give me a greater indication that maybe the sleep apnea is what's causing my symptoms.

Has anyone else had this "brain fog" as I described? Could moderate sleep apnea cause this? I have an appointment next week to get fitted for a CPAP.


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Lots of hyponeas but only a (relatively) few number of apneas....maybe Upper Airway Resistive Syndrome (UARS) instead of true sleep apnea. In UARS, your brain wakes up quickly in response to a flow limitation...so it won't register as a full apnea event. Basically, it is very much like sleep apnea, but the airway doesn't completely collapse....instead of putting a brick on the good sized straw you breathe through, it replaces it with a tetra pack straw...the effect on your sleep is pretty much the same...you wake up so your body can have its big straw back.

For example, I have UARS and my rest disruption index (RDI) was over 50, even though my AHI was only 6. Could be very similar to you...perhaps something to have your doc look at.

Regardless, the CPAP has helped tons as my brain can sleep and not have to keep waking up to deal with the little straw problem. Hopefully you'll find the same Smile
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Yes, you have moderate sleep apnea. Sleep apnea doesn't have to be severe to cause symptoms.
That "brain fog" could be because you stop breathing several times during the night.
This isn't something that a person is even aware of when it is happening.
Be sure to get a fully data capable machine, so you can then track your progress.
Best of luck to you.
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oh yes. those symptoms are all real and basic symptoms of apnea, and very very likely to be relieved by CPAP treatment.

Your doctor should have told you that you had a moderate level of apnea, as mild is considered be 5 to 14. I was higher in the moderate band (15 to 29) - mine was 27. Oh, by the way, your 19 is just the average over the entire night. Although mine was 27, during part of the night (while I was on my back) I got a score of 56. 56 times per 60 minutes for about 2-1/2 hours. Your results are different, but I'll bet there are times in the night you were well above that 19 average.

everything you have noted was true of me as well. you won't know how depression, lack of concentration, fuzzy-headedness, anxiety, etc. really has been affecting you until after some treatment time as it gradually (or sometimes quickly) goes away. my mental outlook has completely shifted.

The clearest published effects of CPAP show patients with moderate and severe apnea can change their [much higher] incidence of death and debilitating heart, lung, brain, and thyroid disease to equal that of non-sleep apnea control group.

It is worth your while to commit to this treatment. I totally believe that the symptoms you say you are experiencing exist even in mild apnea patients, but often are not adequately recognized for their effect on well living.


Dedicated to QALity sleep.
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Thank you all very much for the insight! Much appreciated. Looking forward to getting started with the cpap and getting my brain back!
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Hi jeffbrdr,
WELCOME! to the forum.!
Sleep apnea can be a cause of brain fog, so it's good you are going to get yours treated.
Hang in there for more answers to your questions and much success to you as you start CPAP therapy.
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Yep, same thing was happening to me. I'm a central apnea guy and it has helped with the brain fog very much.
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(02-18-2015, 04:40 PM)quiescence at last Wrote: ...your 19 is just the average over the entire night. Although mine was 27, during part of the night (while I was on my back) I got a score of 56. 56 times per 60 minutes for about 2-1/2 hours. Your results are different, but I'll bet there are times in the night you were well above that 19 average...

Well, yeah.

One of the confusing things about AHI is it can be looked at two ways. It is usually reported as the total number of events divided by the number of hours of sleep, but it can also be looked at as the number of events recorded in a particular hour. You may sleep for four hours with an AHI for each of those hours of 4, and another 4 hours with and AHI for each of those 4 hours of 2, but your AHI for the night will then be 3.

Even in a night with an average AHI of 5, for instance, there may be an hour where the number is 3 to 4 times that high, along with hours where the AHI is zero. I had 348 events in ~6 hours in my home study, for an average AHI of 57.7, but now under therapy it is currently averaging 1.74.

So with severe apnea I may have had the brain fog all my life, until xPAP. Since then I feel like I gained about 25 IQ points (for a grand total of 50!). The change was not sudden for me (although never having to get up to pee was indeed a sudden change).

Do you remember the "Girls Gone Wild" guy who became a multimillionaire in his early twenties (and then ended up in jail for bilking his subscribers)? Rumor has it that he would throw wild parties with some of these girls on his private jet and have the crew lower the oxygen TO SPECIFICALLY INDUCE BRAIN FOG!. You can probably guess why. Having consitently good oxygen sat levels and quality sleep is kinda paramount to not feeling every morning that you pulled an all-nighter. So sleep disturbances like SA definitely can cause brain fog.

I think many here will agree that there are a few things to be recommended here:

1. Follow the forum and educate yourself on the subject and the therapy
2. Use software such as SleepyHead and parse the data (SH will give you aggregate AHI and it will also give you hourly AHI on a graph).
3. Take control of your own therapy (don't expect automatic help from the sleep doc or the DME). Tweaking the therapy myself has allowed me to cut my AHI in half from where it was under the sleep doc's pressure recommendations, for instance.

The therapy works; there are numerous significant benefits, many of them unexpected, and there are virtually no negative side-effects (other than the "mask" look will probably never dominate fashion week). And AHI or RDI will be a hard-data reliable indicator of how well the therapy is working.
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I for one have finally been relieved of my nightly "brain fog" after 2.5 months of CPAP. Hopefully you will get results right away, please commit to it.
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Thanks all for the information and the encouragement.
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