#ItsMoreThanSnoring Sleep Apnea, Obesity & Why Your Weight Matters

In our previous article, we discussed the connection between sleep apnea and anxiety and depression. If you missed it, check out our last article here. Hopefully after our last article, you understand the devastating risk of developing symptoms of depression due to having sleep apnea. But in this article, we will delve into the epidemic that many Americans suffer from: Obesity.   

Those who are overweight have a high risk of developing OSA. Carrying excess weight leads to breathing problems during sleep, and those with a sleep disorder that is left untreated who is not obese, may gain weight as a result.

As Americans, most of us are used to a sedentary lifestyle, working for eight hours sitting down at a desk, followed by more sitting and/or laying down watching TV after work.

“A hundred and fifty years ago, a sedentary lifestyle was considered to be that of a farmer’s wife,” says Richard Simon, MD, a sleep specialist in Washington state. “Our levels of physical activity have plummeted, along with our caloric expenditure, yet our caloric intake has not declined.”

And because we’re not getting enough sleep as a nation, there is a perfect combination for obesity.

“As a person gains weight, especially in the trunk and neck area, the risk of sleep-disordered breathing increases because of compromised respiratory function,” say Margaret Moline, PhD, and Lauren Broch, PhD, sleep specialists at the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can increase appetite. Sometimes adults confuse fatigue and hunger because the psychological indicators are so similar. That’s why we tend to eat when we’re sleepy; we’re thinking that fatigue is a sign of hunger.

The journey to losing weight can also include treating your sleep problems. Experts say even a 10 percent decrease in weight can lead to significant improvements in your sleep experience.

There are several coping mechanisms you may use to combat sleep apnea and feel healthy in your skin. Making healthy meal choices is the first step in getting healthy. Avoid those fast foods and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Consistently exercising throughout the week will improve the quality of your sleep as well. Dedicate at least three days a week to do some sort of exercise. Monitor your sleep schedule and count the number of hours you are asleep for. Setting an alarm at the time you should go to sleep may help you develop a nightly routine.

If you or someone you know are dealing with effects of obesity and could be suffering from sleep apnea, please share this information. Here at Somerville Dental Sleep Medicine, we are committed to helping patients who struggle with sleep apnea. Please reach out to us to schedule an appointment if you or someone you know is struggling with this condition.

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