Here's even more conformation that sleep apnea patients are neurologically impaired: Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reported in the Journal SLEEP this month that in children with known obstructive sleep apnea, two-point discrimination sensation responses of the tongue and hard palate was significantly diminished. This study confirms previous studies showing sensory nerve deficits in adults with sleep apnea.
They speculated that this was due a central nervous system impairment of protective reflex pathways that normally help to keep the upper airway open when there's impending obstruction. Another possible mechanism that was confirmed in other studies is that severe soft tissue vibrations from snoring can diminish pressure sensor activity in the throat. Yet another explanation was wasn't mentioned by the authors is that the presence of gastric reflux in the throat, which is commonly seen in sleep apnea patients, can also diminish protective sensory nerve endings in the throat.