Year after year, millions of people resolve to start dieting and exercising on January 1. Often, their primary objective is to lose weight. If you are planning to slim down in the new year, it is important to remember that the relationship between weight and health is complex. Many factors can affect the number that you see on the scale — including the quality of your sleep. In this blog post, you will learn about the vicious cycle of weight gain and sleep apnea. You will also find tips to help you protect your health.
Weight Gain Can Increase Sleep Apnea Risk
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that occurs when tissues in the airway block the free flow of oxygen. As a result, a person can stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times in a single night! Unfortunately, obesity is a major risk factor for OSA because extra fatty tissue can place pressure on the airway, making it more likely to collapse during sleep.
Sleep Apnea Can Lead to Weight Gain
Weight gain can cause sleep apnea, but the opposite is also true: Sleep apnea can cause weight gain. When you do not get enough high-quality sleep, it can throw your hormones out of whack. In particular, the hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage can be affected.
Individuals who do not sleep well tend to have higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite. They also have lower levels of leptin, a hormone that is associated with feelings of fullness and satiety. Therefore, you may be more likely to crave lots of sugary, starchy foods that can lead to weight gain.
Sleep apnea is also associated with increased insulin resistance. If your body does not use insulin as efficiently as it should, it is more likely to store extra blood sugar as fat.
How Can You Lose Weight and Get More Sleep?
If you are caught in the vicious cycle of weight gain and sleep apnea, there are some steps you can take to improve the situation:
- Comply with your sleep apnea treatment. Many people find that using a custom oral appliance from a dentist is an effective and convenient way to improve the quality of their sleep. (If you have not yet been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you will need to undergo a sleep test before you start treatment.) Higher-quality sleep may improve your hormone health and help you manage your weight.
- Stick to a reasonable eating plan. Be wary of fad diets. They often produce short-term weight loss but can lead to long-term health complications. A nutritionist may be able to help you make wise eating choices.
- Exercise regularly. Just 3 – 4 moderate-intensity workouts each week can support a healthy weight. Plus, even without weight loss, exercise has been known to reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
Weight gain and OSA often go hand in hand. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get high-quality shuteye and stay healthy from head to toe.
Meet the Practice
As a sleep apnea patient himself, Dr. Mitch Conditt is well aware of the many challenges that can result from poor-quality sleep. That is why he has dedicated his practice to helping patients find relief from OSA via oral appliance therapy. If you would like to learn more about how he and our team may be able to help you achieve your wellness goals for 2024, contact our Fort Worth office at 817-527-8500.