The Vicious Cycle Between Weight and Sleep Apnea
None of us like to be overweight. Sometimes, we’re overweight because of genetics and, genetics or not, losing weight is difficult and life-changing. For those of us who suffer from sleep apnea, weight changes can be especially hard.
Weight problems can also exacerbate other health issues also related to sleep apnea, including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea can also cause you to gain weight. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that “sleep problems likely contribute to weight gain.”
Do CPAP Machines Cause Weight Gain?
CPAP machines are a common treatment for sleep apnea. 4 out of 5 CPAP users don’t use their machines for the full recommended amount of time each night because they can be loud and uncomfortable.
Weight gain may be another issue associated with CPAP use. According to Dr. Frank Domino, in a 2015 study that looked at over 3,000 patients, on average CPAP users see increases in their body-mass index.
The Power of Weight Loss
Weight loss is a powerful long-term treatment for sleep apnea for those who are overweight or obese. A 2009 study, published by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, found evidence of sleep apnea symptom alleviation in men who restricted their diets over a nine-week period.
Concretely, they found a 58% improvement in symptoms over that period of time.
Weight loss also helps with reducing the risk of associated complications, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. So important is weight loss that it’s the first treatment emphasized by the American College of Physicians.
Aerobic and Enjoyable Exercise
Working out can be a difficult lifestyle change to make, but it’s important. Exercise can give you energy, confidence, and it can help you sleep better. And the good news is that you don’t need to be in the gym all the time to see results.
Some of the best exercise is enjoyable and more easily sustainable. Exercises like aerobic exercise are great to begin with — hiking, walking along the beach, and playing sports can all help you. Gentle and enjoyable exercises can help you pave the way to a better life.
Exercise can help you to open a new chapter of your life by becoming healthier and improving the symptoms of your sleep apnea.
Your Diet Can Save Your Life
In a 2017 study, researchers found that OSA therapy is significantly more effective when paired with lifestyle changes such as weight loss. When combined with exercise, a diet change can be a powerful tool toward becoming healthier and stronger.
In 2011, researchers found that something as easy as a Mediterranean diet can improve the symptoms of sleep apnea. This diet includes foods that many people already love, too. Finding a diet you can adhere to long-term is vital to feeling rejuvenated and regaining control of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can weight loss cure sleep apnea?
While weight loss can drastically improve your sleep apnea symptoms, most sleep apnea cases can’t be cured. Weight loss reduces sleep disorder symptoms for patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, you stop breathing because air stops flowing to the lungs due to blockage. For some people, the weight of your neck narrows and blocks the airway during sleep and if that’s the case, weight loss could have a positive effect on airway obstructions.
Before starting any weight loss program, talk with your doctor about your weight loss goals and what impact weight loss may have on your symptoms.
Can slender people have sleep apnea?
Yes, people of all sizes and ages can have sleep apnea. Though it’s more common for overweight people and older people to develop a sleep disorder, even children can have sleep apnea. It’s important to take careful note of the symptoms, and when in doubt, undergo a sleep test to be sure.
Sleep apnea is affected by more factors than weight. A larger neck circumference or smaller airway due to anatomical development can be the cause of breathing problems. Your lifestyle and daily choices can also impact your risk of developing a sleep disorder.