Sleep apnea is a common condition that can often lead to death among other things. It is a disorder where episodes of shallow breathing or pauses in breathing occur. These pauses can last from seconds to minutes. The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is increased body weight. The relationship between obstructed sleep apnea and body weight is well established. One fuels the other; sleep apnea can lead to weight gain, and weight gain can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. Adequate weight control is, therefore, of significant benefit.

Sleep apnea is a very treatable condition and getting effective treatment can improve the quality of life drastically. When patients with sleep apnea get treatment, it improves their physical and psychological health and creates a sense of well-being.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes inadequate or poor sleep at night. In many patients, causes snoring too. OSA is also known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. When OSA patients receive adequate treatment, it helps improve daytime sleepiness, reduce snoring and risks of cardiovascular diseases.

In this article, we will be exploring the relationship and effect of weight in OSA patients. We will also be looking into how weight loss helps improve OSA symptoms.

Sleep apnea is a common condition that can often lead to death among other things. It is a disorder where episodes of shallow breathing or pauses in breathing occur. These pauses can last from seconds to minutes. The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is increased body weight. The relationship between obstructed sleep apnea and body weight is well established. One fuels the other; sleep apnea can lead to weight gain, and weight gain can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. Adequate weight control is, therefore, of significant benefit.

Sleep apnea is a very treatable condition and getting effective treatment can improve the quality of life drastically. When patients with sleep apnea get treatment, it improves their physical and psychological health and creates a sense of well-being.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes inadequate or poor sleep at night. In many patients, causes snoring too. OSA is also known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. When OSA patients receive adequate treatment, it helps improve daytime sleepiness, reduce snoring and risks of cardiovascular diseases.

In this article, we will be exploring the relationship and effect of weight in OSA patients. We will also be looking into how weight loss helps improve OSA symptoms.

Is your weight affecting your sleep?

Sleep apnea is experienced as a sudden awakening in the middle of the night because you couldn’t breathe. When you gain weight, the gain occurs in all parts of your body. The excess weight gain around the neck causes increased pressure on the airways. This pressure causes the airways to become narrow or even collapse.  The fatty deposits around the chest cavity can also cause decreased lung volume, thus making breathing difficult.

To understand this better, think of falling asleep with a scarf around your neck during a cold winter night. As you fall asleep, your head either falls onto your chest or you fall asleep on your tummy. In either case, the pressure of the weight of your head or your body will lead to increased pressure on your neck. This pressure is made worse by the scarf present around your neck, causing reduced air entry. When air entry decreases significantly or is absent, your body instinctively wakes up, you take the scarf off and go back to sleep. This is what happens during an episode of sleep apnea due to excess weight. The only difference is; you cannot take the weight off overnight.

In addition, excess weight gain has a significant effect on your cardiovascular system as well. The cardiovascular system is responsible for the supply of blood and oxygen throughout the body, any damage or impairment to it causes decreased oxygen in the body.

Can treating sleep apnea help with weight loss?

Adequate sleep is essential for the body to recover from the stress of daily life. On average, the body needs about 8 hours every night for rest and recovery. If you have sleep apnea, your body is unable to get the required period of rest due to frequent disturbances. This, in turn, can cause excess fatigue and daytime sleepiness. It can also cause weight gain.

Constant fatigue inevitably leads to a loss of motivation to exercise or do anything that requires physical activity. Regular physical exercises or activities help improve energy levels and maintain weight. In addition, endless nights of disturbed sleep and a fatigued body can lead to disruption in the normal functioning of your body hormones as well. This disruption in hormone regulation can lead to increased appetite and decreased metabolism. And a constant consumption of sugar-loaded food and beverages for that “energy kick,” can cause weight gain,  which will lead to further sleep disturbances.

Sleep apnea is also known to be associated with conditions such as diabetes mellitus and increased blood pressure. These conditions have a well-established relationship to increased body weight.

Weight loss, therefore, is of paramount importance in the control and treatment of sleep apnea.

Lose more weight to alleviate your sleep apnea

Treatment of OSA begins with lifestyle changes. These changes include incorporating a healthy diet and increasing physical activities to reduce body weight to an optimum. Loss of weight reduces the fat deposited around the neck and abdomen, which means, there is decreased pressure to the airways and breathing mechanism. This, in turn, will lead to an increased lung volume and improved breathing.

Weight loss in a patient with OSA inevitably causes improved sleep at night which in turn reduces daytime tiredness, irritability, and fatigability. This ultimately leads to an improved quality of day-to-day life.

Also, weight loss can lead to improved cardiovascular health by bringing blood pressure to an optimum range. It also decreases the weight of developing diabetes mellitus.

In moderately obese patients, a weight loss of only 10-15% can reduce the impact of OSA by 50%. It is, however, important to note that weight loss is not a cure to sleep apnea but rather a factor that improves life drastically in patients with OSA. While it may help in the control of sleep apnea, most patients still need additional therapy to completely cure the condition.

Some of the benefits of weight loss in OSA are:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased blood glucose and insulin levels
  • Decreased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased pressure on airways and better breathing
  • Decreased sleep disturbances
  • Improved hormonal regulation
  • Improved attentiveness and energy levels
  • Decreased feeling of fatigue and tiredness
  • Improved heart function
  • Decreased (or even absent) snoring

It is now, very evident how your weight can affect your sleep apnea. It is therefore very important to get your weight in control to lessen the symptoms and effects of sleep apnea. Weight loss can not only lead to improved sleep but also lead to an overall improvement in your health. It helps avoid risks of developing other debilitating conditions such as diabetes or increased blood pressure, both of which are known causes of numerous ailments worldwide.

Sleep apnea, without a doubt, can be debilitating if not controlled as it affects all aspects of daily life. The control of sleep apnea begins with weight loss and leads to a gradual improvement in the overall health and well-being of an individual.

The best place to get a kick start on your sleep apnea treatment is at Heale Medical. Located in  Vienna, Virginia, Heale Medical has a great team of physicians and staff who are committed to providing excellent care in sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Heale Medical offers care for the entire Northern Virginia region, including locations such as Chantilly, Fairfax, Manassas, Gainesville to Reston, Sterling, Leesburg, Woodburn, Purcellville, and more.

Heale Medical offers easy booking of appointments online (via their website). They can get you in touch with sleep medicine experts who provide excellent care in treating sleep apnea. These experts will guide and help you get control of your sleep apnea through sleep apnea treatment.

Booking of appointment can be done at the comfort of your home and according to your feasibility.