The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Excess Weight

While body weight isn’t the only factor that influences your risk of sleep apnea (there are many others), experts generally agree that being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of obstructive sleep apnea. 

Dr. Robert Snow, weight loss expert and bariatric surgeon at Snow Bariatric Center, has helped many patients overcome sleep apnea by way of professional weight loss guidance and weight loss surgery. If you think you might have sleep apnea, keep reading to find out how your body weight could be causing restless nights.

Sleep apnea and weight: A two-way street 

Many people know that sleep apnea and body weight are somehow related — but they may not know exactly how. Turns out, this relationship isn’t a one-sided thing. Sleep apnea and weight affect each other bidirectionally. 

How excess weight contributes to sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when something physically blocks your airways during sleep, leading to short pauses in breathing. Usually, the obstruction is caused by the relaxation of your throat and neck muscles, and if you’re overweight, excess fat deposits may further narrow your airway. Not everyone who has obstructive sleep apnea is overweight, but many, if not most, are.

How sleep apnea can cause weight gain

While most people regard weight gain as a cause of sleep apnea, weight gain can also be an effect of sleep apnea. When you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and lack the motivation to exercise. Plus, sleep deprivation messes with many of your hormones, including stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, as well as weight-regulating hormones, like thyroid-stimulating hormone

Together, all those factors can certainly lead to weight gain, especially if you experience sleep deprivation over an extended period of time. Then, excess body weight you’ve gained can lead to sleep apnea or worsen existing sleep apnea. 

Treatment for sleep apnea

Because of the clear link between sleep apnea and body weight, many medical professionals recommend weight loss as a treatment for sleep apnea. Most people who are overweight and have sleep apnea will improve if they lose weight. Dr. Snow may also recommend a breathing device, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, to help you breathe at night and get quality sleep.

If you’re stuck in the vicious cycle of sleep apnea and weight gain, you could benefit from professional weight loss help or weight loss surgery. To find out if weight loss surgery is right for you, schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Snow today by calling one of our convenient Texas locations or request an appointment online.

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