How Weight Loss Can Help Reduce Sleep Apnea

There are times when the breathing of a person is disrupted while they are asleep, and this common disorder is relatively known as sleep apnea. The commonest kind of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, where there is a disruption in breathing due to the narrow or blocked airway on the upper region of your body.

It is quite similar to like breaking through a straw here. Every night, individuals suffering from severe OSA might have an upward 30 breathing disruptions.

There are several vital links towards excessive weight gain emerging while the medical community is researching more on sleep apnea. Excessive weight gain can make the symptoms worse and exacerbate its detrimental effects on health, leading to sleep apnea.

How Weight Loss Can Help Reduce Sleep Apnea


It becomes a vicious cycle as weight gain can happen due to not sufficient sleep. There are several studies exposing the fact of how weight loss can improve the condition of sleep apnea. It is extremely vital in terms of understanding the complex interactions that take place between the two conditions if you are struggling with excessive weight gain or sleep apnea.

How Weight Loss Can Help Reduce Sleep Apnea

How are weight gain and sleep apnea connected?

There are several health conditions that significantly increase the likelihood of developing sleep apnea. However, OSA is considered a common issue in people who are obese or overweight. Fat deposits form in the neck of a person due to excess weight, and this is known as pharyngeal fat.

This fat can block the upper airway of a person while asleep when the airway is already relaxed. It is the reason why snoring is considered as one of the commonest symptoms of sleep apnea as the air is being squeezed through the restricted airway, literally causing the loud noise.

With the increased girth from the excessive fat compressing on the chest walls of a person, thereby decreasing the volume here is seen. The airflow is diminished through this reduced capacity of the lungs making the upper airway most likely to collapse during sleep.

The risks of OSA continue to increase with the increase in BMI or the body mass index that measures the fat in one’s body on the basis of weight and height. About a six-fold increase in the risk of OSA happens even with a 10% gain in weight.

Even enlarged tonsils can block the airways with anatomical features including narrow throat or large neck, diabetes, thyroid, lung disease, heart problems, and acid reflux are the common areas and causes leading up to sleep apnea. There are roughly about 60-90% of adults who are suffering from OSA who have excessive weight.

Does weight gain result in sleep apnea?

There is an increased amount of evidence suggesting the relationship that is reciprocal while excessive weight has long been considered as a risk factor for the OSA. The reason behind it is that sleep deprivation is generally associated with the decreased amount of leptin and the increased ghrelin that might be increasing the cravings for foods that are rich in calories.

while excessive weight gain is associated with being the risk factor for OSA for a long. Not having sufficient sleep also leads to obesity, overeating, and a decrease in fat loss during the calorie restrictions, as noted through the additional data.

The OSA patients are also more susceptible to gain in weight than the people who have a similar BMI and health status and do not suffer from sleep apnea is also seen in the OSA patients. People with OSA have gained significantly more amount of weight in the year that leads up to their OSA diagnosis being compared with the BMI-matched people not having OSA is seen through an illustrated study.

People are also depleted of the energy that they need for maintaining and healthy body weight ratio through sleep apnea. The commonest symptom associated here is daytime sleepiness, as it results from unrefreshing and fragmented sleep.

As suggested through the evidence, sleepiness can cause sufferers of sleep apnea to exert fewer amounts of physical activities during the waking hours. It might specifically be quite a problematic situation for obese people who are frequently experiencing shortness of breath as well as discomfort on the chest resulting in exercise that is limited. Additional weight gain can happen without any dietary changes and decreased level of activities.

Health effects with excess weight and sleep apnea

The sufferers of sleep apnea might be experiencing significant stress on their pulmonary and metabolic, and cardiovascular systems when they are deprived of sufficient, quality sleep. It is something that can worry an individual who is obese since obesity elevates the risks of heart, metabolic, and lung issues, potentially leading to significant health concerns.

Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Health

The entire cardiovascular system of a person is affected by sleep apnea. Every time breathing is lapsing, the oxygen level in a person’s body drops, triggering the fight or flight responses. Blood appears to surge with the increase in the heart rate, causing the individual to awaken and open their airways with this response. Inflammation can be caused by the cyclic rising and the falling in oxygen levels leading to atherosclerosis.

The glucose, as well as the carbon dioxide levels in the blood, is also elevated through sleep apnea, disrupting the region of the nervous system controlling the blood and heartbeat flow, increasing resistance of insulin and flow of oxygen as well as carbon dioxide, all results from sleep apnea. The following are the diseases associated with sleep apnea:

  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Atrial fibrillation and related arrhythmias
  • Failure of heart
  • Stroke and mini-strokes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome

Sleep Apnea & Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome

People who are dealing with obesity hypoventilation syndrome or OHS often coexist with OSA. An excessive amount of weight can place pressure on the chest wall of a person, thereby compressing their lungs and interfering with their ability to take deep and rhythmic breaths in OHS.

Sleep apnea is among 90% of people who are suffering from OHS. The risk of OHS is correlated to the body mass index in prevalence increase to almost 50% in individuals with BMI more than 50.

OHS can also lead to heart failure and high blood pressure, and it can reduce oxygen, elevating carbon dioxide levels in your blood, much similar to sleep apnea.

Patients are prone to the risks of cardiovascular diseases when they are affected by both of the conditions. It also increases the risk of fatality.

Can sleep apnea be cured with weight loss?

The treatment of sleep apnea is more like treating several diseases as it commences with behavioral and lifestyle modifications. This would include working towards having a healthy body weight for most of the sufferers of OSA.

It can contribute to restricted airflow since weight loss can reduce the deposits of fat in the tongue and neck. It would also be reducing the abdominal fat that in turn will be increasing the lung volume and thereby improving the traction of the airway making it less likely to become collapsed during sleep.

Several symptoms that are related to OSA, including sleepiness in the daytime, are reduced by losing weight. The neuropsychiatric dysfunctions and irritability also improve. There would also be a complete improvement to high blood pressure, cardiovascular health, insulin resistance, and several other fatal diseases.

How does weight loss matter?

There are several patients out there who would wish to know the one that is best to treat sleep apnea, as there are several options that are related to weight loss. The following are a few of the weight loss methods included:

  • Dietary changes
  • Increased physical activity
  • Medications
  • Surgery

Doctors would be mainly prescribing the dietary and the interventions of exercises being the treatment on the first-line. Surgical or pharmacological interventions may include in people who are unlikely or unable to achieve the weight loss adequately through behavioral modifications. There is evidence lying that behavioral modifications are considered to be effective as a few of the weight-loss surgeries to improve OSA.

Improvements to the OSA are quite proportional to the amount of weight loss, irrespective of the techniques included. Patients should therefore be discussing with their doctors in terms of the strategy to weight loss that is well-suited to their personal situations, severity in OSA, as well as overall health.

Does sleep apnea treatment help in losing weight?

As suggested through the evidence, the patients suffering from OSA, when they manage their condition effectively, find it way easier to achieve their weight loss journey.

The levels of ghrelin or hormones stimulating appetite are seen higher in patients with OSA than the ones without being in the same body mass, but it fell down significantly after just two days of making use of the treatment of CPAP.

Find the help you need!

The main aspect of preventing harm and reclaiming quality of life is the early interventions when it comes to weight and sleep. Sleep apnea carries a great prognosis with the right kind of treatment.

It is never too late or very early in taking the active approaches for controlling weight. It is vital to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and streamlined treatment options if you think that you suffer from sleep apnea.

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