The Relation Between Sleep and Weight
Not only does carrying excess weight make us feel more lethargic, unmotivated, and overall unwell, but it can also increase the risk of adverse conditions such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which the body stops and restarts breathing repeatedly throughout the night due to an obstruction of the throat, a neurological issue, or both. Sleep apnea affects much more than just your energy throughout the day. It has deeper health consequences, such as weight gain, and can even result in heart disease. With weight being a factor in worsening sleep apnea, the two go hand-in-hand and can create a vicious cycle. That’s why creating a treatment plan designed to manage symptoms is essential.
It’s important to not lose hope. Dr. Sage White and his team at Southern Utah Sleep & TMJ Center have the experience, technology, and top-notch care. We’ll work together to help you find the most effective treatment for your condition. If you’re a Utah patient in Enoch, Hamilton’s Fort, Kanarraville, or the surrounding areas struggling with sleep apnea, read on to learn more about the effects of your weight on sleep apnea.
How Weight Loss Can Improve Your Sleep
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when the muscles and tissues of the throat over-relax and cause blockage of your airway. This results in your brain jolting you awake so that you can get oxygen — this interruption can happen as many as thirty times an hour oftentimes, the patient isn’t aware of it. Obesity is one of the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea because excess weight can put pressure on your airways which can cause blockage. Keeping excess weight off can lower your risk for sleep apnea, diabetes, heart conditions, and more. Losing weight also has a lot of benefits, such as:
- Improved mood, cognitive function, and self-confidence
- Improved mobility
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased lifespan
- Lower risk of erectile dysfunction
- Lower risk of cancer
Losing weight can also alleviate pressure on your airway, which is why treating sleep apnea in tandem with a plan to reduce excess weight can lead to improved sleep and health.
How Treatment Affects Your Weight
A common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP or a continuous positive airway pressure machine. While CPAP machines are effective even with severe cases of sleep apnea, they’re notorious for being loud, bulky, and uncomfortable. What’s worse, CPAP also has adverse effects on weight with long-term use. When seeking a solution for sleep apnea, your treatment plan doesn’t need to be uncomfortable or inconvenient and shouldn’t negatively impact you.
That’s why Dr. White offers a comfortable alternative to CPAP, oral appliance therapy. With a custom-fitted device, you can comfortably stop your snoring, feel better in the morning, and be on your way to a healthier lifestyle, all starting with a good night’s rest.
The Importance of Managing Weight
Those who are trying to maintain a healthy weight may be surprised to know that weight loss and sleep are connected. When you have a good night’s sleep, your body functions at its best. During sleep, our brains use that time to restore, process information, and prepare our bodies for the next day. Sleep apnea is a constant interruption to your body’s sleep cycle, the oxygen and sleep deprivation associated with this dangerous condition can affect the body in many ways.
Too little sleep can negatively affect our metabolism which means our body can store fat much easier. Additionally, when we are deprived of sleep, it impacts our cognitive function, and the longer we go without quality sleep, the worse the effects. The frontal lobe, the part of the brain that’s responsible for impulse control, is dulled all the while the brain’s reward center becomes activated more. This can make it much harder to avoid food cravings.
While Dr. White can help you with oral appliance therapy to manage your sleep apnea symptoms, we often recommend lifestyle tips too.
Exploring Your Relationship With Weight
Losing weight can positively affect your life in so many ways, and while it can be difficult, the ultimate reward is worth it. It’s important to remember that your weight isn’t tied to your value or worth. Being obese or carrying more weight than you need, is simply a state of being, but for many, weight and weight loss can bring psychological baggage with it.
Struggling with self-esteem and body image can make losing weight incredibly difficult. It’s important to not only be aware of any emotional issues surrounding weight loss but also work with a support team to mitigate and address those issues.
Remember that losing weight isn’t about what appears on the scale, it’s about improving the quality of your life. Losing weight can positively affect your life in so many ways. It can be difficult, but the ultimate reward is worth it.
Tips for managing mental blocks:
- Don’t hyper-fixate on your body mass index (BMI): BMI is one indicator and is not the end-all measure of fitness. If you find yourself obsessing over your numbers, it may be more productive to focus on being consistent with a routine rather than the numbers.
- Weigh yourself less often: In the same vein, for some, seeing little changes can create a mood shift or make them less motivated to continue. A lot of factors go into how much you weigh including muscle percentage so focusing on the number can be less than helpful.
- Focus on small, manageable daily changes: Many people assume that the journey to a healthier weight involves pushing yourself for hours in the gym. However that isn’t the case, we’re all busy, and it’s hard to incorporate healthy habits into our already full days. In reality, our daily habits are what determine our health and weight. Developing small habits like going for a walk after meals or ensuring you’re getting the appropriate amount of water can make all the difference. Even taking up a new active hobby can make a huge difference.
- Find an accountability buddy: If you’re trying to make changes to your life, it can be mentally challenging. Our brains prefer familiarity, and change presents uncertainty so there’s resistance to change. However, that resistance shouldn’t be a stopping point if you want to have a healthier life. Having a trusted person or support team who can help you overcome that resistance can make change more manageable.
- Incorporating fun and play into your routine: Getting the exercise you need doesn’t have to be boring or unfulfilling. Instead, explore active activities that make you feel good — swimming, yoga, or hiking can be great ways to keep your body healthy. If solo workouts aren’t appealing, taking a class may be a fun way to add movement to your day. You can also discover a new community to share your victories with, this can lead to new, fulfilling social connections.
- Create a food plan that meets your nutritional needs: Your diet plays a huge role in weight loss as well. Nourishing your body with wholesome foods will positively impact both your mental and physical health. If you aren’t sure what foods you need, visiting a nutritionist can provide some insight. Finding creative ways to incorporate healthy foods into your day or finding healthy alternatives for foods you love in a way that works for your unique life can be validating and empowering.
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 permanently cured. However, weight loss has been shown to reduce symptoms in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA causes you to stop breathing due to a blockage in the airway. In some cases, the weight of your neck narrows and blocks the airway during sleep. As a result, losing weight can help clear your airway and significantly improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
Before starting any weight loss program, make sure to talk with Dr. White about your goals and what impact weight loss may have on your symptoms.
Can people who aren’t overweight have sleep apnea?
Yes — while being overweight is a common underlying cause of sleep apnea, people of all sizes and ages can develop the disorder. That’s why it’s essential to take careful note of any symptoms you’re experiencing and undergo a sleep test if you think there’s even a chance you have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is affected by many factors besides weight. For example, a larger neck circumference or smaller airway due to anatomical development can be the cause of breathing problems. Maintaining a healthy body weight won’t guarantee that you don’t develop sleep apnea, but it should at least help you manage your symptoms.
Rediscover Life’s Freedoms With Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you’re a Utah patient in Enoch, Hamilton’s Fort, Kanarraville, or the surrounding areas struggling with sleep apnea, Southern Utah Sleep & TMJ Center is here to provide the treatment and support you need. Our expert sleep dentist and our experienced team are behind you every step of the way to reclaiming your night’s rest and rediscovering an energized, passionate life. Call us at (435) 276-0486 to schedule your consultation with Dr. White or fill out the form at the bottom of this page and one of our team members will reach out to you.