Nootropics Help Sleep Apnea Induced Cognitive Impairment


Photo courtesy of Holohololand, via

Photo courtesy of Holohololand, via

Sleep apnea is quite the sinister disease. It’s a respiratory condition, inherited genetically, but then facilitated by food allergies and inflammation in the airways, that is characterized by uncontrollable pauses in a person’s breathing during their sleep cycle, that is implicated in various ailments, such as heart disease.

Sleep Apnea Is..

Basically what happens is: when you’re either falling asleep, or you’re already asleep, inflammation in your airways causes oxygen uptake to decrease significantly, the most severe cases of which completely stop air from being taken into the respiratory system. The person then stops breathing, for long periods of time (30 seconds to a minute in severe cases) and is either completely woken up, or sleep is significantly interrupted (without rendering the person fully conscious and aware of the event) because the brain is starved of oxygen, and the body is sending a distress signal through the nervous system to breath. In this process, adrenaline is released through the body, and significantly taxes various systems of physiology.

The following day, people with sleep apnea often experience massive cognitive deficits as a result of continuous interruptions in sleep. Rudimentary elements of mental functionality that people typically take for granted are abolished in short order. Short term memory becomes as task. Verbal fluency takes a nosedive, and concentration is nearly impossible. You become a broken person, in desperate need of rest, restoration, and an improved neurological profile.

As a quick aside, before we get into the nootropics part of helping restore brain functionality from sleep apnea induced cognitive dysfunction, I think it’s important for people to know that there are in fact diet and other related facilitators of inflammation of the airways, in people genetically programmed to have airway functionality issues. They are specifically:

  1. Butter.
  2. Milk.
  3. Wheat (for some people).
  4. Having extremely low quantities of stomach acid.
  5. Gerd.

Me personally, I have some pretty horrific sleep apnea events when I consume butter or milk. Sleep apnea is, in my mind, 100% related to digestion. Undigested proteins and food particles enter the blood stream, and create an immune response which triggers inflammation in the airways. This seems to happen as a result of some type of gut functionality issue within the person. And there are multitudes of gut issues that could be at play here. So, fix your digestion, and really look into bulletproofing your stomach and digestive functionality. Ok! Now let’s get to how to improve your brain function after sleep apnea events.

Nootropics Improving Cognitive Function After a Night of Sleep Apnea 

Having had a ton of gut related issues, stemming mostly from eating extremely low carbohydrate diet for far too long, my genetically predisposed sleep apnea really started biting me good. I hadn’t noticed it prior to the hay day of my gut problems, and always felt refreshed after waking. My dad had the disease and wore the CPAP mask to supply oxygen to his body during the night, but I was always remarkably devoid of symptoms, at least in large part. Gut issues (and likely gut flora issues) arose, and boom, the apnea hit me like a ton of bricks.

I started waking up gasping for air, nearly passing out and losing consciousness. When it happens, it’s the scariest thing in the world, and you literally feel like you’re dying. Not fun.

In the midst of this, I really started noticing the degradation of my cognitive abilities the following days. It was like a truck hit me. It was like I was being starved of the usual highly functional brain I had, the brain that allowed me to start and make a company relatively successful. I started having serious memory deficits, and my ability to feel generally energized, confident, and functional declined significantly. I was a walking zombie.

Luckily for me, I’ve been experimenting with nootropics for years. Before actually trying to remedy the cognitive issues I was having with nootropics, I gave an initial period to trying to solve the problem (the apnea), which would solve the neurological issues. But – that is was (and is) a huge rabbit hole to go down. It’s solvable, yes, but it takes (and took me) quite a long time to get control of it, and start repairing my body so the apnea wasn’t as severe and noticeable. Time I wasn’t willing to exist in having sub-par brain function.

Nootropics to the Rescue

Making the decision to start using nootropics to help me function normally when I was having bad sleep apnea events came when I realized it was going to take me quite some more time to figure out the complex biology behind sleep apnea. So, I went right in with what I knew, and started experimenting with the following nootropics to help my brain function normally again:

  1. L-Tyrosine – This powerful amino acid is a precursor to a major neurotransmitter system called the “Catecholamines.” For quite some time, likely related to my sleep apnea, I must have been deficient in the catecholamine neurotransmitters. They are: Dopamine, Epinephrine, and Norepinephrine. I say that because I started taking 500-1000MG of L-Tyrosine everyday, and very quickly returned to my normal self. It was incredible. It helped my brain function normally and deal with stress so powerfully, I was convinced I should take it forever. However, once the neurotransmitters that this compound are building blocks for are repleted to normal levels, the amino acid is no longer a great idea to take. I started running into periods of over anxiety and insane irritability, something I realized was likely happening from surpassing repleted levels of epinephrine. But, for those of you running into cognitive deficits from sleep apnea, L-Tyrosine might be a great nootropic to take to get your brain working again. Just monitor how it makes you feel. If you start feeling extra irritable, take the dose down or cycle off.
  2. Cortex Gen 1. I’m definitely going to plug our product, strictly because it works. If I’ve had a bad night of sleep apnea, and I want to get back to baseline, and even improve from there, Cortex Gen 1 nootropic is a great repair mechanism for sleep apnea induced cognitive problems. The science behind Cortex is solid: it works in a reparative manner, focusing on increasing brain phosphatidylcholine, neurite outgrowth, and improving one of the major neurotransmitters NOT replenished when sleep is interrupted, Acetylcholine. Cortex Gen 1 works powerfully on improving focus ability, memory, verbal fluency, and overall brain fluidity. Particularly, the Uridine Monophosphate, CDP Choline, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine in the stack are the real powerhouses that facilitate brain function. ALCAR (or Acetyl-L-Carnitine as a long hand), improves the synthesis of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, something that may be inhibited from interrupted sleep. Uridine and CDP Choline together, both work to facilitate focus and memory, but work synergistically in a way that helps the brain to build new neurons.
  3. Aniracetam. This nootropic is literally one of my top 3 favorite nootropics. Ashwagandha, the Cortex stack, and Aniracetam are my top 3. Aniracetam is a pretty potent “racetam,” that’s an actual smart drug (that can legally be purchased from the web and used recreationally and for performance enhancement in the U.S.), and helps restore some of the main categories of brain function that sleep apnea tends to fuss with. Aniracetam increases blood flow to the brain, and acts as a positive modulator of excitatory receptors in the brain (AMPA receptors), which causes a stimulatory effect that facilitates improved cognition. Perhaps the most significant actual study that aligns with my point of Aniracetam helping improve cognitive deficits from sleep apnea is this one, which clearly demonstrates that Aniracetam prevented memory impairment in rodents that had been given a neurotoxic agent. That’s a pretty substantial point of reference, proving the notion that Aniracetam works well at repairing impaired neurological mechanisms, particularly memory. In the same light, and by the same mechanisms, the substance is considered “Neuroprotective.”
  4. Ashwagandha. This, is on my top 3 favorite nootropics for a great reason. It’s an Ayurvedic herb (Ayurveda is an ancient healing system, consisting of a multitude of herbal compounds that facilitate healing of various ailments), that helps the body adapt to stress, strengthens the immune system, and regulates hormones (and likely neurotransmitters). When I take this herb, irrespective of sleep apnea events, I always feel an almost instant calming effect from it, that also is present in my brain, to the point where it seems to make mental functionality just a bit easier than baseline. When I have sleep apnea events, Ashwagandha really changes the game for me. First, it’s ability to effectively reduce cortisol, a major stress hormone brought on by having sleep apnea events, has a major impact on how you feel. That alone makes it worth taking. But it’s effects on the brain’s chemistry, particularly in a restorative light, are quite profound. It’s been demonstrated very specifically to improve the mood of its administers, in response to anxiety and stressful situations, like obstructive sleep apnea.

And I’m sure there are many more. I mean, Modafinil (AKA Provigil), a very powerful anti narcolepsy drug, is actually prescribed to people in the United States (and likely elsewhere) that have sleep apnea. It’s one of the main ailments Modafinil is used for. This drug is a nootropic in and of itself, and although “smart drugs” and “nootropics” are used synonymously, Modafinil really fits into the “smart drug” arena. I have never taken the stuff, but the side effects reported all around the web are enough to prevent me from trying it. I’ll stick with the Cortex’s and Racetams of the world.

I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Ciltep nootropic (another popular nootropic out there) for sleep apnea recovery purposes, specifically because for me, Ciltep tends to give me a headache, and induce brain fog. That isn’t because Ciltep is inherently.. anything, it’s because my brain just reacts to it that way. Plenty of people get a great benefit from taking the stack.

Summing it up

Sleep apnea can be a life wrecker. It’s an extremely sinister disease that afflicts millions of people all over the world. It will induce some of the heaviest brain fog you can imagine, impair your memory, and make you feel lethargic, drained, and powerless in your life. But luckily, there are things you can do to control it, and repair your brain from the damage it does. First, you must strongly consider that certain food stuffs that you eat are facilitating your sleep apnea. This is a must for people to realize. Then, one should consider the question: why is that happening? What is malfunctioning in my digestive processes that inflames my airways when I lay down to go to sleep? Do I have enough stomach acid? Is my gut flora out of balance? And address those areas with a ton of research, and a lot of experimentation. This is your body. It’s up to you to fix it. The medical community does not have very evolved solutions for this disease. They want to strap an insanely uncomfortable mask on your face that blows air into your lungs. How primitive.

But secondly, you can help your brain function normally (and even above average) by taking nootropics after sleep apnea events. Aniracetam, Ashwagandha root, Cortex Generation 1, L-Tyrosine, and likely lots of other nootropics out there can aid in bringing your brain back to baseline, and helping you function good throughout the day, after a bout of sleep apnea. Your brain is your success mechanism. It’s your navigational system. It’s the basis for your confidence, your personality, your charisma, your efficacy in this world, and a whole lot of other things. You’ll benefit greatly from staying on top of its optimization, in the face of ailments that effect its functionality.

Sources and Referential Data

  1. Norepinephrine – Wikipedia
  2. Cortex Generation 1 Nootropic
  3. Choline + Uridine – Build New Neurons – Smart Publications
  4. Aniracetam Neuroprotection –
  5. Effects of the novel compound aniracetam (Ro 13-5057) upon impaired learning and memory in rodents – Pubmed
  6. Ayurveda – Wikipedia
  7. Immune enhancing effects of WB365, a novel combination of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa) extracts – Pubmed
  8. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda – Pubmed
  9. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults – Pubmed
  10. Impact of Sleep and Its Disturbances on Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity - International Journal of Endocrinology
  11. Ashwagandha – The rejuvinating antioxidant that calms the heart and mind – Smart Publications
  12. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study – Pubmed
  13. Pharmacological effects of Withania somnifera root extract on GABAA receptor complex – Pubmed

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