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Snoring may be affecting your memory

Snoring may be doing more than just affecting the quality of sleep that some people get. A new study finds that abnormal breathing patterns during sleep, like heavy snoring and sleep apnea, may also affect your memory and thinking at an earlier age.

Dr. Harneet Walia did not take part in the study but treats sleep disorders at Cleveland Clinic.

"So, the investigators found that people that had sleep-disordered breathing had an earlier onset of mild cognitive impairment as compared to people who did not have sleep-disordered breathing," Walia said.

NYU researchers studied nearly 2,500 people between the ages of 55 and 90. They found those with sleep breathing problems were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment an average of 10 years earlier than people who did not have sleep breathing problems.

They also found that people who treated their sleep breathing problems with a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP, were diagnosed with memory and thinking problems about 10 years later than people whose problems were not treated.

Researchers also linked sleep breathing problems to an earlier onset of Alzheimer's disease and said that there may be a need to examine whether using a CPAP could help prevent or delay memory and thinking problems.

Dr. Walia said that physicians may need to ask patients more questions when it comes to breathing problems.

"People who are taking care of older individuals should be cognizant of sleep apnea. They should screen these individuals with sleep apnea questions," Walia said.

Complete findings for the study "Sleep-Disordered Breathing Advances Cognitive Decline in the Elderly" can be found online in the journal "Neurology."