The Die-hard Relationship Between Sleep Apnea & Weight Gain

Are you struggling to shed weight even if you are eating well and exercising? One possible reason could be due to sleep apnea.

Now, we are not saying that everyone who is overweight has sleep apnea. However, putting on extra pounds does increase the chance of having the disorder. A significant reason is that weight gain can cause fat to accumulate in the neck area, leading to obstructed breathing and sleep apnea. Therefore, one of the first lifestyle remedies that doctors recommend when treating OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) is weight loss. Undoubtedly, losing 10 percent of your body weight can remarkably improve sleep apnea or even get rid of the condition completely.

The Sleep Apnea & Its Symptoms

 Sleep apnea, also spelled sleep apnoea, is a common sleep disorder in which an individual’s breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep. The symptoms include loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, and restless sleep.

Three basic types of sleep apnea are:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea- A common form that takes place when throat muscles relax.
  • Central Sleep Apnea- Occurs if your brain stops sending the proper signals to muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome- Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, and occurs if someone already has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

 Warning Signs & Symptoms:

Sometimes, the warning signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, making it difficult to determine which type you have.

However, common signs of obstructive and central sleep apnea are:

Loud snoring

Gasping for air during sleep

Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep ( generally another person reports this)

Awakening with a dry mouth

Morning headache

Difficulty staying asleep ( like insomnia)

Excessive daytime sleepiness (like hypersomnia)

Difficulty paying attention


Sleep Apnea Cause Impulsive Overeating

According to studies, inadequate sleep could lead to compulsive overeating, mainly of high-calorie foods. You might be curious to know what the mechanism is for this phenomenon. Well, scientists are beginning to unravel this mystery. Generally, sleep deprivation results in lower levels of the hormone leptin, which not only reduces hunger but also higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that arouses the appetite.

These modifications can also occur when the sleep cycle is disrupted, for instance, when traveling to a distant time zone or changing work hours to a night shift. A study suggests that the timing of an increased food intake in patients unites with an increase in blood levels of endocannabinoid 2-AG. This substance in humans activates the same receptors in the brain as the cannabinoids found in the drug marijuana, which is known to rouse the appetite. These points help to understand at least part of the reason that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain.

Dangers Of Weight Gain With Sleep Apnea

 As we understand how sleep apnea leads to weight gain, similarly, weight gain can also make sleep apnea symptoms worse.

When most people gain weight, they gain it everywhere – including the neck area. However, excess weight in this area can limit your airway when you lie down. And, when the air has to squeeze through, it is often heard as wheezing or snoring.

Typically, if your airway is getting blocked during sleep, obstructive sleep apnea occurs, so this excess narrowing can increase the number of times you wake up at night.

In a nutshell, having sleep apnea can also contribute to gaining pounds; yet, people with severe OSA have a greater chance of gaining even more weight.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

It’s no wonder that all the health problems linked to the condition sound scary. However, there are lots of ways to treat it. The most important one is by contacting a board-certified doctor.

Some trusted doctors may recommend a machine called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). With a mask attached by a hose, this device helps you breathe better at night and get the rest you need. It may take some time to get used to, but people who use it state that they sleep better and feel healthier. Make sure this machine is only used with a doctor’s prescription.

There are other treatments, too. For instance, there are mouth appliances, nerve stimulators to keep your airways open, and various types of surgery.

But, it is always better to talk to a specialist like: Tmj & Sleep Therapy Centre about which option is most likely to help you feel better and avoid other health problems.

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