Sleep Apnea and Your Weight

Young man struggling to get out of bed in the morningSleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when your throat muscles relax and allow your tongue to fall back into the airway. This creates a blockage, causing you to stop breathing repeatedly while you sleep. Once the brain recognizes a lack of oxygen, it’ll signal your body to wake up suddenly and gasp for air. 

These frequent interruptions prevent patients from sleeping well, causing exhaustion during the day. But sleep apnea does more than just make you feel tired. The relationship between weight and sleep apnea is a complex one, the connection is undeniable. 

Can Being Overweight Cause Sleep Apnea? 

Not everyone who is overweight or obese will have sleep apnea, and obesity is not a direct cause. However, excessive weight around the neck increases your risk of developing a sleep disorder.

Sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax, causing the tongue to fall back into the airway during sleep. If there’s too much weight pressing down on the airway, it’s more likely to collapse.

Why Does Sleep Apnea Have an Effect on Weight?

Sleep apnea and weight are connected for many reasons, such as:

  • Chronic fatigue and low energy. When you have sleep apnea, you’re more likely to be tired during the day. Considering even one night of sleep deprivation can affect your health, imagine what months or years can do. When you’re chronically fatigued, finding motivation to exercise is all but impossible.
  • Slower metabolism. When you feel exhausted, you’re likely to be less active and expend fewer calories during the day. Sleep deprivation can slow your metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. 
  • Hormonal changes. Poor sleep can sometimes lead to a hormonal imbalance. Leptin is the hormone responsible for signaling your brain that your stomach is full, which decreases when you’re sleep deprived. Meanwhile, ghrelin, the hormone that sends hunger signals, increases. 
  • Decreased willpower. When you’re exhausted, you’re more likely to crave foods high in sugar and starchy carbs. The last thing you’ll want to do is cook fresh, healthy meals. This can cause you to order takeout or go to the drive-thru more often.

Will Losing Weight Reduce Sleep Apnea Symptoms?   

 Weight loss can reduce many of the side effects of sleep apnea, such as daytime sleepiness and chronic fatigue. Getting a proper diagnosis is the first step toward receiving the right treatment and losing weight. 

Take Control of Your Health and Treat Your Sleep Apnea 

Sleep Better Tampa offers the sleep apnea treatment you need. Dr. Bulnes-Newton is Tampa’s trusted sleep expert, and she’ll ensure you receive the treatment you deserve. Call 813-607-5337 for your consultation to learn more about sleep apnea and health today.