Do you regularly feel exhausted, even after a full night’s sleep? Do you fall asleep easily whenever you are sedentary throughout the day? Has your partner complained about your nightly snoring?
It’s possible that you might have sleep apnea, and it might be harming more than just your night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly throughout the night. It may happens a few times a night or multiple times per minute. In either case, the disorder hinders your ability to achieve a deep, restful night’s sleep.
Sleep apnea causes fatigue, headaches, irritability, and slowed reflexes. But it can also lead to potentially serious health consequences such as cardiac dysfunction (hypertension, heart failure, and atherosclerosis), type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and kidney disorders due to iron overload.
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine at night to keep airway passages open. New studies have also found promising results in the use of hydrogen to ameliorate some of the potential side effects of this condition.
A study published just a few months ago in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity looked at how the inhalation of hydrogen gas might help protect cardiac function in patients with sleep apnea. When oxygen levels are reduced due to sleep apnea, reactive oxygen species (or ROS) are generated within cells, causing oxidative stress. When this happens in the cells within the heart, the result is cardiac dysfunction in the form of hypertension, heart failure, and atherosclerosis.
Hydrogen is an anti-oxidant that is particularly effecivet at neutralizing ROS molecules. And due to its extremely small size, hydrogen can penetrate areas of the cell that other anti-oxidants cannot, providing protection from oxidative stress at all levels.
In this study, researchers concluded that hydrogen gas inhalation “could protect against the cardiac dysfunction and structural disorders,” induced by sleep apnea, noting that it was the specific ability of molecular hydrogen molecules to decrease ROS levels that was responsible for its protective effect on the heart.
In another study published in the journal Molecules, researchers looked at the effect of hydrogen gas inhalation on the kidneys, specifically kidneys that have been damaged by sleep apnea. Previous studies have shown elevated levels of iron in patients with sleep apnea. Researchers noted that this iron overload then causes oxidative stress which in turn leads to kidney damage. But in this study, researchers found that hydrogen gas inhalation protected the kidneys by preventing the buildup of iron and reducing oxidative stress.
If you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about the treatments that might help prevent this condition. And it’s worth taking a closer look at molecular hydrogen and how it might protect your body from this diseases’ damaging side effects.