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Sleep Apnea & Your Weight
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Weight Gain & Sleep Apnea

Patients who are overweight face a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, which is a serious health disorder that interferes with your ability to breathe throughout the night. The result is that your sleep is repeatedly disrupted as your body recognizes the lack of oxygen, preventing you from getting the rest you need to function properly throughout the day.

Excess weight makes it harder to breathe during your sleep, mainly due to the soft tissue of the palate relaxing at the back of the throat. At the same time, sleep apnea often causes weight gain, exacerbating your symptoms.

Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between sleep apnea and your weight.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

The first treatment that is often prescribed for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. These devices maintain a steady flow of air through a mask worn by sleeping patients over their nose and mouth. This keeps your airway open while you’re sleeping and has proven to help alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea.

When patients stop wearing a CPAP mask or don’t wear it enough, their sleep apnea symptoms will continue to progress without any interference, often causing them to gain weight as a result. According to a 2015 study that examined 3,000 sleep apnea patients, CPAP users experienced an increase in BMI (body-mass index).

The Ease of Oral Appliances

Oral appliances are available for patients who are looking for a less invasive treatment option to relieve them of their sleep apnea. If you have mild to moderate symptoms of the disorder, these dental appliances or oral mandibular advancement devices can prevent your tongue from blocking the throat. To determine whether or not you’re the perfect candidate for oral devices, you can schedule a consultation where Dr. Pooja Goel will review treatment options with you.

Weight Loss & Improving Sleep Apnea

Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to naturally reduce your sleep apnea symptoms and also lower your risk of connected complications including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. It’s for this reason that weight loss is ranked as the first treatment option according to The American College of Physicians

In another study conducted by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, male sleep apnea patients who restricted their diet for nine weeks showed a 58 percent improvement in their case during that period. While weight loss does help with sleep apnea, it’s also important to seek further treatment to fully alleviate your symptoms and support you during your weight-loss journey.

Making Exercise Fun

Besides treating your symptoms for sleep apnea, exercise offers a wide variety of health benefits. Unfortunately, the truth is that most people don’t really enjoy working out and often find excuses for not doing it. The truth is that exercise can be tedious, uncomfortable, and just exhausting — even more true if you’re overweight. But if you want better sleep, exercise could be the ticket you need to a peaceful night’s rest.

While many patients assume that losing weight means pushing your body to its limit, the reality is that you can risk serious injury. Instead, consider simple aerobic activities to help with weight loss. Do you like playing sports? How about yoga or dancing? Even just walking at least 30 minutes a day can do wonders for your health. If you love the beach, try walking near the shoreline and listening to music to keep yourself motivated.

By choosing an activity you like, you’re far more likely to maintain your routine and achieve the results you’re aiming for. All it takes is one hour of aerobic activity four days per week to help you lose weight and sleep soundly throughout the night. Combined with treatment from a trained professional such as Dr. Pooja Goel, you’ll wake up feeling rested and ready to tackle the day.

Strive For A Healthier Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to taking control of your weight and relieving you of your sleep apnea symptoms. Though many patients are reluctant about the concept of dieting, making small changes without giving up your favorite foods can have a positive impact on your weight-loss journey. In fact, strict diets often cause people to give up and regain the weight they initially lost.

That’s why Dr. Pooja Goel advises a more moderate approach, such as adopting the Mediterranean diet. This diet gives you a healthy balance of different food groups without forcing you to make drastic changes like giving up meat or dairy. You can still enjoy a burger or a bowl of ice cream — just don’t have them all at the same time and make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in between.

By following a diet that’s consistent and oppressively strict, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other serious health conditions. As long as you stay accountable to realistic goals, there are no limits to what you can achieve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sleep apnea cause weight gain?

Excessive weight can cause sleep apnea, but lack of sleep can also negatively impact your weight and decision-making skills. Having a restful night plays a major role in your quality of life, and sleep apnea can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, and hypertension.

Treating sleep apnea makes it easier for you to begin a healthy cycle of habits. Your CPAP machine or oral appliance will help you breathe during sleep and get better rest, allowing you to tackle your day with more energy. Feeling more motivated to exercise and prepare doctor-approved foods, you’ll find that these healthy habits contribute to the success of your sleep apnea treatment and weight-loss journey.

Do you have to be overweight to suffer from sleep apnea?

You don’t have to be overweight to be at risk of sleep apnea. Although excess weight commonly contributes to the disorder, there are a variety of other conditions that can make you susceptible. Patients of all ages and sizes can have sleep apnea, which is why it’s important to undergo a sleep study to diagnose and treat your specific symptoms.

Does losing weight treat sleep apnea?

Losing weight can help reduce your sleep apnea symptoms. However, the process can take months or even years — that’s why it’s important to receive immediate treatment. Dr. Pooja Goel recommends scheduling a sleep study with a specialist to find your ideal solution.

Professional treatment for sleep apnea is crucial to helping you achieve a healthier lifestyle. Having more energy throughout treatment gives our patients the help they need to start working out and preparing nutritious meals.

Dr. Goel Can Help With Your Sleep Apnea

Weight loss can be a long-term solution for relieving your sleep apnea, but immediate treatment is also necessary to improve your symptoms. Thankfully, Dr. Pooja Goel can provide you with the expertise you need to make an informed decision for your health. We encourage you to call our Santa Clara location at (408) 549-1602 or fill out an online contact form to schedule an appointment. A better night’s sleep is within your reach!