What are the effects of sleep apnea?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can have several disruptive effects on your body. Find out what these effects are.

Whether it’s mild, moderate or severe, sleep apnea has disruptive effects on your body, disturbing your sleep-wake cycle as well as your blood and brain chemistry. Sleep apnea can affect your mood, lead to weight gain, daytime sleepiness, headaches, and memory problems.1

If left untreated, some effects also include:

  • Risk of accidents: Evidence suggests that people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a motor vehicle accident compared to other drivers.2 The study also found that by treating sleep apnea with CPAP therapy (for at least 4 hours per night) significantly reduced this risk.2
  • Mood: If you snore and experience mood problems and/or daytime sleepiness, these could be the effects of untreated sleep apnea. 21.5% of people with sleep apnea experience mood problems although women with sleep apnea are more likely to report mood disturbances than men.3
  • Daytime sleepiness: People with sleep apnea are often very sleepy during the daytime. This isn’t surprising when you consider how their sleep is being constantly interrupted. Daytime sleepiness puts you at risk of accidents. People with sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a car accident.2


  1. Engleman HM, Douglas NJ. Thorax. 2004 Jul; 59(7):618-22.
  2. https://aasm.org/risk-of-motor-vehicle-accidents-is-higher-in-people-with-sleep-apnea/ accessed 24 June 2019
  3. Aker J et al. Sleep Breath. 2017 May;21(2):311-318.