losing weight

Can losing weight cure sleep apnea?

It is now well-established that sleep apnea (or apnoea) shares strong links with being overweight or obese. As such, it is only natural for those with the condition to question whether losing weight can assuage or even cure it.

However, while it may seem logical that addressing the issue that potentially led to sleep apnea should help reverse it, the reality is far more complex.

Sleep apnea actually makes losing weight more difficult

To lose weight effectively, a person usually needs to strike a good balance between adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise. In this way, attempting to treat sleep apnea through diet and exercise alone may be highly problematic and, ultimately, frustrating. After all, untreated sleep apnea can cause endless restless nights.

Lack of sleep can cause far more serious health problems than simply being chronically tired. Indeed, being deprived of sleep can detrimentally alter the functions of one’s bodily tissues and hormonal profile. For instance, not getting enough sleep disrupts the hormones released by the body that are designed to control hunger.

Leptin, which controls how full you feel, can decrease, while ghrelin, which controls hunger, tends to increase. This can lead to a vicious cycle of binge eating on carbohydrates, sugars and unhealthy fats, particularly as being tired can affect one’s mental health and ability to exercise willpower.

To put this into perspective, a study written up by the Mayo Clinic actually found that adults sleeping 80 minutes less than usual increased their daily calorie intake by an average of 549 calories – not fantastic news if you want to lose weight.

CPAP therapy can help treat sleep apnea AND weight issues

As sleep apnea and weight issues are so closely intertwined, it is important that sufferers address both problems in tandem.

A CPAP machine is an effective way for sleep apnea sufferers to stop the periodic sleep disturbances caused by sleep apnea. Indeed, the condition can cause sufferers to stop breathing a number of times throughout the night, waking them up and lowering the average number of hours of sleep they achieve.

A CPAP machine can effectively apply pressure to a person’s airway, by way of a CPAP mask, allowing them to get enough oxygen throughout the night and, by extension, setting them up to succeed in their weight loss efforts.

Photo: diet plate by stockcatalog licensed under Creative Commons 4.0

(diet plate by stockcatalog licensed under Creative Commons 4.0)