Understanding The Link Between Sleep Apnea And Weight Gain

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Sleep apnea is a fairly common disorder in which people stop breathing during sleep. In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form of sleep apnea, the trouble breathing is caused by a narrow or blocked upper airway. It’s like breathing through a straw. Those with severe OSA may experience up to 30 breathing difficulties per night.

Understanding The Link Between Sleep Apnea And Weight Gain

As the medical community learns more about sleep apnea, several important links to excess body weight are emerging. Being overweight can not only cause sleep apnea, it can also worsen the symptoms and increase the harmful effects on health. Not getting enough sleep can also lead to weight gain, making it a vicious cycle. Many studies show that losing weight improves sleep apnea. If you struggle with sleep apnea or obesity, it’s important to understand the complex interactions between the two conditions.

Sleep Apnea And Hormonal Imbalance

Some medical conditions make sleep apnea more likely, but OSA is more common in people who are overweight or obese. Being overweight creates deposits of fat in a person’s neck, called pharyngeal fat. Pharyngeal fat can block a person’s upper airway during sleep when the airway is already relaxed. That’s why snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea—air is literally being squeezed out of a restricted airway, making a loud noise.

Additionally, increased abdominal girth due to excess fat can compress a person’s chest wall, reducing lung volume. This reduced lung capacity results in reduced airflow. Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotechnology Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source , making the upper airway more likely to collapse during sleep. OSA Risk Continues to Increase with Body Mass Index The JAMA Network of Trusted Sources JAMA and specialty journals help readers access the latest research, author interviews, programs, and educational courses. View Source (BMI) measures body fat based on height and weight. Even a 10% weight gain is associated with a sixfold increase in Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotechnology Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See the source OSA risk.

Less common causes of sleep apnea include enlarged tonsils that block the airway, anatomical features such as a large neck or narrow throat, endocrine disorders (including diabetes and thyroid disease), acid reflux, lung disease, and heart problems. However, approximately 60-90% of adults Trusted Source Journals of the American Diabetes Association The American Diabetes Association is a nonprofit organization that works to educate the public about diabetes and help those with it by funding research into diabetes management, treatment, and prevention. View Source with OSA is overweight.

To understand if you may have sleep apnea, take the short quiz below to see if you have any signs.

Causes Complications Of Sleep Apnea

Although obesity has long been known to be a risk factor for OSA, increasing evidence suggests that the relationship is reciprocal. This is because lack of sleep is associated with decreased levels of leptin (an appetite-suppressing hormone) and increased ghrelin (an appetite-stimulating hormone), which can increase cravings for high-calorie foods. Additional evidence suggests that insufficient sleep leads to overeating, obesity, and reduced fat loss with calorie restriction.

It also appears that OSA patients in particular may be more prone to weight gain than people with the same BMI and health status but without sleep apnea. This is illustrated in one study, which found that people with OSA gained significantly more weight (about 16 pounds). to be well-informed by the medical community and the public, advanced standards for conducting and reporting medical research, and contribute to improving human health worldwide (see source ) in the year before their OSA diagnosis compared to BMI-matched people without OSA.

Sleep apnea can also deplete people of the energy needed to maintain a healthy body weight. Daytime sleepiness is a common symptom of sleep apnea, which results from fragmented, unrefreshing sleep. Excessive sleepiness can cause people with sleep apnea to be less physically active during their waking hours. This can be particularly problematic for obese people, who often experience increased shortness of breath and chest discomfort with physical exertion, and exercise is limited. In addition to dietary changes, decreased activity can lead to additional weight gain.

Without adequate quality rest, individuals with sleep apnea experience significant stress on their cardiovascular, metabolic, and pulmonary systems. This can be especially worrisome for obese people, as obesity can also increase the risk of heart, lung and metabolic problems. Trusted Source National Center for Biotechnology Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See a resource that can exacerbate their health problems.

Role Of Weight Management In The Treatment Of Adult Obstructive Sleep Apnea Guidelines Pocket Guide

Sleep apnea affects the entire human cardiovascular system in several ways. Every time you stop breathing, the body’s supply of oxygen is reduced, which triggers the fight-or-flight response. When this reaction occurs, blood pressure increases and heart rate increases, causing the sleeper to wake up and reopen the airway. This cycle repeats throughout the night. Cyclical increases and decreases in blood oxygen levels can cause inflammation, which in turn can lead to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the blood vessels), which is linked to heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.

Sleep apnea also increases blood carbon dioxide and glucose levels, disrupts the part of the nervous system that controls heartbeat and blood flow, increases insulin resistance, and changes the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide. As a result, sleep apnea is associated with the following heart, lung, and metabolic problems, including:

OSA often exists in people with obesity hypoventilation syndrome. Trusted Source National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) The NHLBI is the nation’s leader in the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders. View Source (OHS). With OHS, excess weight puts pressure on a person’s chest wall, compressing the lungs, making it difficult to breathe deeply and evenly. Up to 90% of people with OHS Trusted Source ATS Journals ATS Journals publishes the latest advances in basic science, translational and clinical research, clinical trials, recent reviews, perspectives, clinical guidelines, and reports on education. development of adult and pediatric respiratory health professionals. View Source also has sleep apnea, but not everyone with OSA has OHS. OHS risk is associated with BMI, with prevalence increasing to nearly 50% in those with a BMI greater than 50 Trusted Source Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM) JCSM is the official, peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. . View source.

Like sleep apnea, OHS can cause high blood pressure and heart failure, and it can also reduce oxygen and increase carbon dioxide in the blood. Patients with both of these conditions are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, patients with severe OHS are at increased risk for OSA Trusted Sources National Library of Medicine, Biotechnology Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See source of death.

Weight Loss And Sleep Apnea: A Transformative Journey To Better Sleep And Health.

Treating sleep apnea, like most illnesses, begins with lifestyle and behavioral changes. For most OSA sufferers, this includes achieving a healthy body weight. Losing weight reduces fat deposits in the neck and tongue. Trusted Source ATS Journals ATS Journals publishes the latest advances in basic science, translational and clinical research, clinical trials, recent reviews, perspectives, clinical guidelines, and reports on the education and development of adult and pediatric respiratory health professionals. Review the source that may be contributing to the restricted airflow. It also reduces abdominal fat, which in turn increases lung volume and improves airway adhesion, causing the airway to shrink during sleep.

Losing weight can also significantly reduce many of the symptoms associated with OSA, such as daytime sleepiness. Irritability and other neuropsychiatric disorders are also noticeably improved. Overall improvement in cardiovascular health, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes. Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotechnology Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See the source and especially the quality of life. A weight loss of just 10-15% can reduce the severity of OSA by 50% in moderately obese patients. Unfortunately, although weight loss can significantly improve OSA, it usually does not completely cure OSA, and many sleep apnea patients require additional therapy.

With several weight loss options available, many OSA patients want to know which one is best for treating sleep apnea. Some of the best ways to lose weight include:

There is evidence that behavior modification is as effective as certain weight loss surgeries. Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotechnology Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health

Recognizing The Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

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