Sleep apnea and your weight are often interconnected, leading to a vicious cycle of sleep apnea and weight gain causing sleep deprivation and the inability to lose excess weight.
In this blog, the board-certified sleep specialists at eos sleep explain how sleep apnea is related to weight gain and what you can do to help both.
What is sleep apnea?
This sleep disorder occurs because your breathing passages become temporarily blocked as you sleep. This often happens because the soft tissues of your mouth and palate fall back as you sleep, blocking your airways.
When this happens, you start and stop breathing many times throughout the night, and your body moves from a deep stage of sleep into a light one. Although you’re spending enough time in bed, you’re not getting the restorative sleep you need in order to feel your best.
This sleep disorder can cause a long list of symptoms – including excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, and morning headaches – as well as increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Does being overweight cause sleep apnea?
Not everyone who’s overweight will develop this disorder, but the vast majority of people who have it are overweight.
Extra pounds can create extra soft tissue in the neck, which can cause your airway to become narrowed. In addition, if you have a neck size greater than 17.5 inches, you have a greater chance of developing sleep apnea.
Does sleep apnea cause weight gain or make it harder to lose weight?
Not only are you more likely to have this disorder if you’re overweight, but you may also have trouble dropping pounds or may gain weight if you have it.
A lack of deep, restorative sleep can affect two hormones that help control your appetite. Ghrelin, which tells you when to eat, increases when you have sleep apnea. And leptin, the hormone that tells you you’re full and you should stop eating, decreases when you have this sleep disorder.
Your metabolism also slows down if you suffer from this sleep disorder. As a result, your body is less efficient at converting food into energy, which can lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
Finally, if you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to overeat. Not only will you consume more calories, you’ll be more likely to reach for unhealthy “comfort” foods, which will make it even harder to lose excess weight.
How can you avoid weight gain with sleep apnea?
Treatment can help improve your symptoms, as well as the quality of your sleep. In turn, you may find it easier to lose weight, which will better help control your symptoms.
Common types of treatment include the following:
- CPAP machine – This device delivers a continuous flow of air through a hose to a mask worn over your nose and/or mouth. This will help keep your airway open at night.
- Oral appliances – These custom-made devices are similar to an orthodontic retainer and are worn only at night. They help keep your airway open by gently repositioning the tongue or the tongue and lower jaw.
If these types of treatments aren’t effective enough, a variety of minimally-invasive procedures and surgeries are available to help alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms.
Contact eos sleep today to make an appointment for an evaluation. We’ll help you get the most effective, least invasive treatment that will let you sleep better and may make it easier for you to lose weight.