Sleep apnea plus dim light at night increases depression, anxiety in mice

July 16, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—New research suggests the estimated 12 million Americans who have obstructive sleep apnea should take better care to sleep in a very dark room. Scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have found exposure to dim light at night can interact with sleep apnea and lead to increased levels of depression and anxiety in mice.

"Although it is unclear at the present time whether sleep apnea causes depression, both conditions are commonly seen together in patients. Our research suggests that sleeping even with a minimum amount of light may increase in those with sleep apnea," said Dr. Ulysses Magalang, director of Ohio State's Sleep Disorders Center and a co-author of the study.

Results of the research were recently published online by the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

The study involved mice that were placed in sleep apnea-like conditions that mimic the repetitive lowering of that sleep apnea patients experience. Half were kept in normal during the day and total darkness at night. The other half was exposed to dim light at night using a 40-watt light bulb in the lab. The group in dim light had higher anxiety behaviors and more depressive behaviors than the mice kept in the dark environment. Scientists also observed impaired among both sets of mice.

The video will load shortly

"Not only were these changes observed during field and maze tests, but we also recorded physical changes, including a reduction of cell size in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important in memory and ," said Taryn Aubrecht, first author of the study and a neuroscience graduate student at Ohio State. "The combination of dim light exposure and sleep apnea appears to result in increased depressive and anxiety-like behaviors in mice, so limiting exposure to light at night could be a very simple strategy to help patients with sleep apnea," Magalang said. "We're currently exploring further human testing."

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common problem, especially among smokers and people who are overweight. The disorder is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes and higher risk of stroke and heart failure. The most common signs include loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, irritability and memory problems. Magalang offers these suggestions for improving sleep and reducing dim light exposure at night:

  • Use room-darkening drapes or shades on windows to block outside light from traffic, streetlights and neighboring buildings.
  • Turn off the television, computer or other electronic devices before going to sleep.
  • Choose clocks or night lights with red lighting instead of blue or green.

Explore further: Sleep apnea and pre-eclampsia share a common warning sign

Related Stories

Sleep apnea and pre-eclampsia share a common warning sign

June 27, 2013
Many, but not all, people with sleep apnea develop high blood pressure. In a new study, Yale researchers show those who develop hypertension have many similarities with pregnant woman with pre-eclampsia.

Race apparently a factor in sleep apnea

June 26, 2013
A Wayne State University researcher has found that sleep apnea severity is higher among African-American men in certain age ranges, even after controlling for body mass index (BMI).

Patients with type 2 diabetes or hypertension must be evaluated for sleep apnea

June 3, 2013
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is advising anyone with Type 2 diabetes or hypertension to be evaluated for sleep apnea by a board-certified sleep medicine physician. The recommendation comes as the group of ...

Sleep apnea increases risk of sudden cardiac death

June 11, 2013
A moderate case of obstructive sleep apnea can significantly increase a person's risk for sudden cardiac death, an often fatal condition where the heart stops beating and must be immediately treated with CPR or an automated ...

Women with sleep apnea have higher degree of brain damage than men, study shows

December 3, 2012
Women suffering from sleep apnea have, on the whole, a higher degree of brain damage than men with the disorder, according to a first-of-its-kind study conducted by researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing. The findings ...

Sleep tips for summer nights

July 8, 2013
(HealthDay)—Those extra hours of daylight in the summer contribute to sleep problems experienced by many Americans, experts say.

Recommended for you

Anti-nausea drug could help treat sleep apnea

June 6, 2017
An old pharmaceutical product may be a new treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, according to new research presented today by University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University scientists at the SLEEP 2017 annual ...

New disposable, wearable patch found to effectively detect sleep apnea

June 4, 2017
Results of a definitive clinical trial show that a new, disposable diagnostic patch effectively detects obstructive sleep apnea across all severity levels.

Childhood sleep apnoea is common but hard to diagnose

April 28, 2017
The cessation of breathing during sleep caused by enlarged tonsils is common in preschool-age children and can cause serious complications, but the methods normally used to diagnose the condition are subjective and unreliable. ...

Curbing sleep apnea might mean fewer night trips to bathroom

March 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—Millions of Americans battle bothersome nighttime conditions, such as sleep apnea or the need to get up frequently to urinate.

Untreated sleep apnea in children can harm brain cells tied to cognition and mood

March 17, 2017
A study comparing children between 7 and 11 years of age who have moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea to children the same age who slept normally, found significant reductions of gray matter - brain cells involved ...

Dietary supplement derived from tree bark shows promise for treating obstructive sleep apnea

February 24, 2017
Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to briefly stop breathing while asleep, affects an estimated 5 percent of the population, not including the many more who don't even realize they suffer from the disorder.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.