Sleep apnea is a fairly common sleep disorder where people experience disruptions in breathing while they sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea, and it occurs when one’s upper airway is narrow or blocked. In severe cases of OSA, breathing can be disrupted up to thirty times per night.
The more researchers learn about sleep apnea, the more apparent it is that it is linked to excess body weight. Not only can being overweight cause OSA, but it can worsen symptoms and worsen the harmful impact sleep apnea can have on your overall health. This article will explore how weight affects sleep apnea and whether sleep apnea can cause weight gain, and some things you can do to manage your weight and alleviate sleep apnea symptoms.
How Weight Affects Sleep Apnea
Weight is a significant risk factor for sleep apnea. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop sleep apnea than those who are at a healthy weight. This is because excess weight can cause an increase in fat tissue around the neck and airway, which can obstruct breathing during sleep.
When breathing is obstructed, the body cannot get enough oxygen, leading to interrupted sleep and other health problems. In addition, studies have shown that weight loss can significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms. In fact, for some people, weight loss may be enough to completely eliminate sleep apnea.
Can Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain?
While weight can contribute to sleep apnea, the reverse may also be true. Some studies have suggested that sleep apnea may contribute to weight gain or make it difficult for people to lose weight.
Sleep apnea can affect hormones that control appetite and metabolism, such as leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that regulates energy balance by inhibiting hunger, while ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. Sleep apnea can disrupt the normal functioning of these hormones, leading to increased hunger and a slower metabolism. This, in turn, can make it more challenging to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
In addition, sleep apnea can lead to fatigue and low energy levels, making it difficult for people to engage in physical activity and exercise. Lack of exercise can contribute to weight gain and make it more challenging to lose weight.
What Can You Do?
If you have sleep apnea and are concerned about weight gain, there are several steps you can take to manage your weight and improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
1. Lose Weight
As mentioned earlier, weight loss can significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight may be the most effective way to manage your sleep apnea symptoms. Consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to develop a safe and effective weight loss plan.
Regular exercise can improve sleep quality and may also help with weight loss. Try to get in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming each week. Resistance training can also be beneficial for building muscle and increasing metabolism.
3. Follow a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can also help with weight loss and improve sleep apnea symptoms. Choose whole, unprocessed foods such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid sugary drinks, processed foods, and excessive amounts of trans and saturated fats.
4. Use a CPAP Machine
If you have sleep apnea, using a CPAP machine can improve your sleep quality and reduce the risk of weight gain. A CPAP machine delivers a continuous flow of air to keep the airway open during sleep, which can help you breathe more easily and reduce sleep disruptions.
5. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Practicing good sleep hygiene can also help with weight management and improve sleep apnea symptoms.
Good sleep hygiene includes:
- Establishing a regular sleep schedule and sticking to it
- Creating a comfortable sleep environment that is cool, dark, and quiet
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bedtime
- Limiting screen time before bedtime and avoiding electronics in the bedroom
- Relaxing before bedtime with activities such as reading, meditation, or a warm bath
DreamZz Sleep Center Can Provide Help for Your Sleep Apnea
Weight is a significant risk factor for sleep apnea, and weight loss can be key in improving sleep apnea symptoms. However, it is essential to remember that weight loss is not a cure for sleep apnea, and other treatments may be necessary.
If you are struggling to manage your weight or improve your sleep apnea symptoms on your own, seek professional help. Your healthcare provider or a sleep specialist can guide you on the most effective treatments for your needs.
The Dream team at DreamZz Sleep Center can help if you’re suffering from sleep apnea. We guarantee a consultation and sleep study within one to two weeks of your initial call, meaning your treatment can start in less than a month! Our physician is fellowship-trained, Sleep Medicine board-certified, and will analyze your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you get the sleep you deserve.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.