Memory loss is unusual forgetfulness. You may not be able to remember new events or recall one or more memories of the past or sometimes even both. Memory loss can be a permanent state such as amnesia or it might only be because of factors which cause memory loss. Memory loss can get worse over time due to repeated exposure to factors. Long time memory loss can be called Amnesia.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1What can cause Memory Loss?
  • 2How does sleep apnea damage the brain?
  • 3How does sleep apnea cause memory loss?
  • 4Can this brain damage be reversed?
  • 5What nutraceutical should you use to improve memory loss?
  • 6How is sleep apnea diagnosed?


  • A lot of prescription and over the counter medications may interfere or be the cause of memory loss.
  • Examples are: Antidepressants, Antihistamines, Anti-anxiety medication, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and some pain medication, that is administered post-surgery.

Alcohol, Tobacco and drug use:

  • Excessive alcohol intake may cause memory loss.
  • Tobacco reduces the oxygen intake to the brain that can cause people that smoke to struggle remembering faces and names, more than non-smokers.
  • Drug use can change the chemicals in the brain that make it difficult to remember things.

Sleep Deprivation:

  • It is important to get enough sleep, as well as quality sleep, as it is important for a good memory.
  • When you have too little sleep or wake up frequently during the night, it can lead to fatigue, and make it difficult to collect and retrieve information.

Depression and stress:

  • Depression makes it very difficult to pay attention and focus, which can lead to memory loss.
  • Stress and anxiety also affects concentration, when a person is tense, distracted or overstimulated your ability to remember can decrease.
  • Stress that is caused by emotional trauma can lead to memory loss as well.

Nutritional deficiency:

  • Good nutrition with a good protein and fat intake, increases proper functioning of the brain.
  • Vitamin B1 and B12 deficiencies, can lead to memory loss.

Head Injury:

  • When a head injury caused by a car accident or fall for example, it may cause injury to the brain, and cause short, and long term memory loss.
  • The good thing though is that it can gradually improve over time.


  • This is caused by a blockage of a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain.
  • Strokes can cause short term memory loss. Other stroke sufferers may recall child hood memories, but not remember what they had for breakfast.

You’ve probably heard about the physical side effects of sleep apnea, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes but OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) takes a huge toll on the brain as well.

The following are specific areas in the brain which are damaged from untreated OSA:

  • Multiple studies have discovered a decrease in both grey and white matter in the brains of subjects with OSA.
  • Recent studies have shown that OSA changes the levels of neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate in the brain.
  • Damage to the hippocampus due to OSA causes dysfunction of short and long-term memory and spatial navigation. The hippocampus is also one of the first areas to be damaged in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • OSA causes damage to the cerebellum which adjusts blood pressure control and motor coordination, including breathing. Damage to this area prevents the ability to coordinate vascular and motor activity.
  • It has also been shown, based on various high-tech MRI technologies, that certain critical areas of the brain that regulate breathing, blood pressure, pain, heart rhythm, mood , balance, motor co-ordination and memory are damaged when there are repeated episodes of apneas and low oxygen levels.
  • Researchers at UCLA found that mammillary bodies structures in the brain which are important in memory storage, were nearly 20% smaller in patients with OSA than in their untroubled counterparts . Mammary bodies are important for memory recall, as well as for memory for certain smells.
  • The hippocampus is found to be significantly smaller in people with obstructive sleep apnea. This area of the brain processes short and long-term memory and spatial navigation.
  • Researchers have demonstrated damage to neurons caused by decreased oxygen levels to the brain which also contributes to memory loss and other cognitive problems

If OSA can damage critical areas of the brain that regulates breathing, balance, memory, and the autonomic nervous system, the implications are enormous. Is it possible that untreated obstructive sleep apnea can damage breathing and reflex centres in the brain that can lead to heart failure? What proportion of Alzheimer’s disease is actually undiagnosed OSA? The possibilities are endless.

These two conditions cause a range of daytime mental symptoms primarily due to the lack of restorative sleep and the lack of oxygen to brain cells which can occur multiple times an hour throughout the entire night! Symptoms of brain damage include shortened attention span, moodiness, and especially reduced short-term recall or memory.

Research suggests that people with sleep apnea have trouble converting short-term memories into long term ones. Consolidating memories, or storing experiences, so that they can be accessed later, is a vital link in the memory-creating process that occurs during sleep.

When slumber is impacted by these sleep disorders, people have trouble incorporating and categorising their experiences, which leads to impaired memory formation and forgetfulness.

Poor sleep quality and progressive brain damage induced by OSA and UARS could also be responsible for emotional problems and decreased cognitive functioning.

The good news is that when OSA and UARS are effectively treated, this damage to the brain is reversible over time.

One study found that hippocampal damage can be partially reversed after a period of CPAP. The hippocampus is also one of the first areas to be damaged in Alzheimer’s disease

There is mounting evidence that treating sleep apnea, such as with using CPAP therapy, may return patients' brain chemicals back to normal levels. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, researchers found that a year of CPAP treatment, the patients’ white matter was almost completely restored, while their gray matter saw substantial improvement after only three months.

This is in line with other studies that have confirmed that CPAP treatment, when used regularly, can almost completely alleviate the cognitive symptoms and effects of sleep apnea.

  • L-Carnitine
  • Vitamin B
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Magnesium
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • IQ script
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Pregnenolone
  • Folate
  • Ensure hormones are in balance

A sleep study is a monitoring study done while you sleep to assess certain important parameters. At Sleep Renewal, we are excited to launch "Home Sleep Studies", which can be done in the comfort of your own bed. The Home Sleep Study System uses bluetooth technology to create a wireless body area network to maximise patient comfort and to measure the necessary parameters while you sleep.

Data from the overnight study is then sent to a neurophysiologist who will manually score your sleep pattern. If you do have OSA or UARS, you will then be referred to our Health Renewal doctors who will manage the process further

If you or a loved one snore and are suffering from memory loss and decrease cognitive function, don't hesitate to talk to a doctor at Sleep Renewal so that OSA or UARS, two common sleep breathing disorders, can be excluded. 


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