How Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Affect Your Body’s Metabolism and Weight?

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We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep, waking up well-rested and ready for the day’s activities. Feeling good and supporting the body’s ability to heal while we rest and getting a good 8-9 hours of sleep seems to be a happy consensus of a proper sleep. So what happens to those who are struggling with sleep apnea disorder?

If you are one of those people, the struggle is real and you are familiar with waking up feeling tired and moody and having trouble staying awake the rest of your day. Not only do people who struggle with obesity often also struggle with obstructive sleep apnea, (OSA), but the catch 22 is that people who have sleep apnea are also more prone to obesity! This is a vicious cycle that deserves attention, and we want to help.

Why does sleep apnea cause weight gain?

One obvious reason is that people who aren’t rested after a night’s sleep are just plain tired, and that doesn’t motivate them to go out and exercise. A good walk or workout leaves you feeling better and boosts your energy levels, but trying to exercise when you’re feeling exhausted doesn’t help much and can even leave you feeling worse.

We already mentioned that good sleep supports your immune system health, and helps regulate your appetite so you aren’t constantly feeling the urge to snack on sugar and caffeine to raise your energy levels. While you sleep, your body releases hormones that regulate your appetite, and when that’s disrupted, you end up wanting to eat constantly. Battling the urge to overeat as well as consuming too much sugar and caffeine only drains your energy and disrupts your sleep even more.

Now you’re in a sleep apnea and weight gain cycle, each making the other symptoms worsen. If you’re putting on extra weight don’t be surprised if you gain some in your neck, which narrows your airway so you end up snoring and making sleep apnea an even more likely result. When your breathing airway is restricted, you constantly wake up gasping or snorting during the night, which disrupts your normal sleep cycles.

With sleep apnea, you are more at risk with other health problems like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure both of which increase your weight. Those struggling with OSA often find themselves insulin resistant and diabetic, which might be because of the lack of oxygen to the body, affecting how your body processes glucose. What’s worse is even battling sleep apnea for just a few days (much less months or years) raises your blood sugar levels, fat levels, blood pressure, and stress hormones, leaving your health at risk.

Treating OSA

Obstructive Sleep Apnea impacts anywhere from 20 – 30 percent of adults over 50, as reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology and Lancet Respiratory Medicine. One study of people with severe OSA and obesity involved measuring the free fatty acids in people while they slept, monitoring their:

    – Blood
    – Glucose
    – Insulin
    – Cortisol

They also observed their:

    – Brain waves
    – Blood oxygen levels
    – Heart rates
    – Breathing
    – Leg and eye movements

The result? Removing CPAP treatment leads to a recurrence of OSA along with higher heart rate and lowered blood oxygen levels while increasing their levels of free fatty acids, glucose, cortisol and blood pressure – all of which are linked to diabetes. And higher blood pressure puts you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. They concluded that people with sleep apnea are more prone to a worsening of their obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

When it comes to treating OSA, we encourage the use of CPAP therapy to ward off additional metabolic and cardiovascular effects. And for those who have trouble using a CPAP device to get better sleep quality, our sleep specialists can help! We have alternative treatments that can give your body the sleep it craves to boost your metabolism for optimal health. Give us a call today to learn more!