Sleep Apnea, Dim Light May Lead to Depression


CLARK POWELL: After years of struggling with the symptoms
of sleep apnea, Jack Chapman says using a CPAP machine has changed his life overnight. JACK CHAPMAN: A complete difference in how you feel all day — you wake up refreshed. POWELL: While this machine
may have helped Jack with his physical symptoms, a new study is shedding light on the psychological
symptoms of sleep apnea. DR. MAGALANG: In patients with obstructive sleep apnea, there is a very high
incidence of having depression. POWELL: Dr. Ulysses Magalang is a sleep expert at the Ohio State
University Wexner Medical Center. He says half of all patients with obstructive sleep
apnea also have depression. And now, as subtle as it may seem, they may have found one of
the reasons. DR. MAGALANG: Light at night, even low levels of light, may actively suppress the secretion
of melatonin. POWELL: And in lab experiments with mice, that led to depression and anxiety.
Rooms like this may seem fit for sleep, but there are several problems. TV’s can cause
significant sleep disruption, and even when they’re off, lights from control boxes can
cause problems. So can alarm clocks. Even though the experiments were done in mice,
researchers say the evidence is compelling enough to prompt changes in humans. DR. MAGALANG: If you
have obstructive sleep apnea, it would be better if you can sleep in a darkened environment
and avoid even low levels of light. POWELL: Jack says his sleep apnea hasn’t caused depression,
but he appreciates the fact that researchers are shedding new light on how important it
might be to sleep in the dark. At Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, this is Clark Powell
reporting.

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