Can Sleep Apnea Cause Mood Swings?

Yes, sleep apnea can cause mood swings due to the many effects of sleep deprivation.

If you’ve ever experienced a restless night’s sleep, you likely recall the fatigue and haziness that plagued you the following day. Despite your efforts and caffeine intake, feeling alert and refreshed seemed out of reach. Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea endure this persistent lethargy, affecting their mood. Sleep deprivation not only contributes to mental health issues but also heightens the likelihood of developing sleep disorders for those already dealing with psychological challenges.

Recent studies have shifted the perspective on sleep disorders like apnea, no longer considering them mere symptoms but recognizing their potential to trigger psychiatric conditions. Snooze EZ has curated an analysis detailing how sleep apnea impacts mood, overall psychological state, personality, and behavior to shed light on its profound effects on mental health.

How Sleep Apnea Causes Mood Swings

Untreated sleep apnea can disrupt your sleep patterns, leading to mood swings and heightened irritability. When your breathing is interrupted during apnea or becomes shallow during hypopnea, you are unable to reach the deep, restorative stages of sleep. This results in poor sleep quality despite sleeping for enough hours, causing ongoing sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep has been associated with various cognitive and emotional issues, including increased irritability.

Sleep deprivation can trigger exaggerated emotional responses and mood swings by heightening activity in the brain’s emotional processing network, such as the amygdala. Studies have found that individuals with sleep disorders like apnea often experience heightened irritability and emotional instability due to poor sleep quality, similar to those suffering from severe lack of sleep. Therefore, managing sleep apnea is essential not only for physical health but also for maintaining emotional stability and mental well-being.

Psychological Problems with Sleep Deprivation

In order to function effectively throughout the day, most people require a minimum of eight hours of sleep. Sleep apnea can lead to feelings of fatigue even after a full night’s rest. Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause hallucinations and sensory experiences that are not real. Additionally, sleep deprivation can contribute to various psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, paranoia, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, and impulsive behaviors. To gain a deeper understanding of the psychological impacts of sleep deprivation, let’s explore some of the risks mentioned above.


Anxiety can lead to sleep deprivation, especially when accompanied by diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. This combination can create a dangerous situation, as insomnia and sleep disturbances from sleep apnea can further exacerbate feelings of anxiety. If left untreated, these sleep problems may escalate into more severe anxiety conditions that make it difficult to navigate daily life. However, addressing the underlying sleep disorder with appropriate breathing equipment can help establish a more consistent sleep routine, leading to improved rest and reduced anxiety throughout the day.


Insufficient sleep quality can impact mood, causing irritability and crankiness. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to more than just mood swings; it can result in mood disorders like depression and major depressive disorder over time. Sleep apnea exacerbates or triggers these conditions by disrupting the individual’s ability to achieve restful sleep, making it challenging for them to function in their daily life. The longer the poor sleep patterns persist, the more profound the impact of sleep apnea on depression becomes. Addressing the sleep disorder not only alleviates depression symptoms but also reduces the risk of developing depression altogether.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) manifests as a type of depression that arises during periods of reduced sunlight exposure. The prolonged darkness disrupts the person’s internal body clock, leading to disturbances in their sleeping patterns – either excessive sleeping or insufficient rest. These disruptions, coupled with an inability to achieve quality sleep, contribute to feelings of despair during the darkest times of the year.


Stress is closely linked to sleep quality. When experiencing stress from personal or professional challenges, it may be harder to relax and fall asleep at night. The combination of stress and lack of sleep due to conditions like sleep apnea can heighten irritability and reduce one’s ability to manage daily stressors effectively. Insufficient sleep can magnify minor annoyances into major sources of frustration, leading to increased irritability towards loved ones and colleagues. Prioritizing adequate rest at night is crucial for improving resilience in handling stressful situations in life.


Individuals with bipolar disorder often experience intense mood swings between manic highs and depressive lows. These extreme shifts directly impact their sleeping patterns depending on their current mental state. During manic episodes, they may feel so energized that they get very little or no sleep at all, which can significantly affect their mental well-being due to severe sleep deprivation. Conversely, during depressive episodes, they may oversleep and disrupt their body’s natural sleep cycles.

Given the significant role that sleep patterns play in the moods of individuals with bipolar disorder, treating any underlying sleep disorders such as sleep apnea with breathing equipment can help stabilize their mood swings and make transitions between depression and mania less extreme. This support enables them to achieve a full night’s rest and better manage their condition overall.

The Impact of Sleep Apnea on Personality

Personality is a intricate and multifaceted aspect that influences how we engage with others and behave in different circumstances. Although personalities are distinct to each person, recent research has identified a link between personality traits in individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. These shared personality traits include:

– Sedentary behavior

– Lack of vitality

– Diminished self-worth

– Negative outlook

– Feelings of guilt

– Excessive daytime drowsiness

In addition to these traits, those with obstructive sleep apnea also exhibit tendencies towards hypochondria and deviant behavior. Due to the interruptions in their sleep caused by this disorder, they are unable to achieve restful deep sleep at night. This leads to mood swings and fatigue, ultimately impacting their personality and social interactions.

Behavior Problems with Sleep Apnea

Adults suffering from obstructive sleep apnea frequently display behavioral issues akin to those found in individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulty concentrating, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity, are often mirrored in those with sleep apnea. These behaviors can lead to challenges in self-esteem, relationships, and work performance. By addressing your sleep problems caused by ADHD through CPAP therapy, you can improve the quality of your sleep and potentially alleviate some of the associated behavioral difficulties.

How Does Sleep Apnea Impact Mood?

The impact of sleep apnea on our mood is well-known, with researchers discovering that the condition not only affects physical health but also has significant implications for mental well-being. The interruptions in breathing and chronic sleep deprivation associated with sleep apnea can result in changes to personality, behavior, stress levels, memory function, and other related issues. Individuals with mental health disorders may find it harder to achieve restful sleep, exacerbating their conditions further.

Conversely, poor sleep quality or deprivation can contribute to the development of mental health problems. This harmful cycle can severely impair daily functioning if left unaddressed. While various factors influence both sleep patterns and mood, a clear connection between the two exists. Therefore, many healthcare providers advocate for improving sleep quality as a means of enhancing mental well-being. Neglecting treatment for sleep apnea can have detrimental effects on mental health; thus, ensuring adequate rest through proper breathing equipment is essential for maintaining optimal daily functioning and overall wellness.

Can sleep apnea be causing your headaches?