The Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and Your Weight
While it’s true that sleep apnea can affect anyone, there’s no denying the connection between obstructive sleep apnea and obesity. Not everyone who is overweight or obese will develop sleep apnea, but gaining weight does increase your risk of developing the disorder. Explore our guide to learn more about the unique relationship between sleep apnea and your weight and how our dentist can help.
How Does Gaining Weight Lead to Sleep Apnea?
When the muscles in your neck relax when you’re asleep, they can no longer support the weight of the tissue on top of them. If you have excess weight pressing down on your airway, it’s more likely to collapse and obstruct your breathing. Because of this, people who carry excess weight in the neck are much more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
How Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain?
On the flipside, obstructive sleep apnea can also lead to weight gain. When you’re deprived of oxygen during sleep, it can affect your health in many ways. Here are some reasons sleep apnea can cause you to gain weight:
- Slower metabolism — Sleep deprivation can affect your metabolism. In addition, other factors caused by sleep deprivation can lead to a less active lifestyle, which can also have a negative impact on your metabolism. A healthy metabolism is necessary to maintain your weight.
- Low energy and chronic fatigue — Other than interrupted sleep, the number one symptom of sleep apnea is exhaustion during the day. When you’re continuously exhausted, it isn’t easy to get the amount of exercise you need.
- Increased cravings — When you feel tired, you’re much more likely to crave foods that give you a quick energy boost. These tend to be foods high in sugar and simple carbs.
- Hormonal changes — If you aren’t getting restful sleep because your airway is being blocked, your body is constantly fighting against you. This can lead to a hormonal imbalance that makes weight loss practically impossible. Without restful sleep, your hormones will tell your body to eat more, and you won’t get the signals to stop eating when you’re full.
Natural Sleep Apnea Remedies
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that often requires medical treatment. However, there are a number of lifestyle changes and natural remedies you can try to help control your condition. While maintaining a healthy weight is a top suggestion, other things that might help are:
- Avoiding alcohol and medications that make you sleepy.
- Quitting smoking if you’re currently a smoker.
- Sleeping on your side instead of your back or your stomach.
- Trying yoga and meditation to help you relax.
It is also worth mentioning that maintaining a healthy weight (and losing weight if necessary) is the best thing you can do to help prevent complications from sleep apnea. Your diet plays a huge role in your weight, so make healthy food choices whenever you can.
And while the benefits of exercise go far beyond weight loss, there’s no denying that frequent movement is necessary to maintain a healthy weight. Eating nutritious foods and getting regular exercise will lead to better sleep and better overall health.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Bellevue, WA
If you’re struggling with sleep apnea and your weight, our team at the Sleep Apnea & Facial Pain Center can help. To schedule your consultation with our dentist, Dr. Donesky, a leading sleep apnea and TMJ specialist in Bellevue, call our office at (425) 646-6409.