The Nasty Cycle Between Sleep Apnea & Weight
Nobody appreciates being overweight. It can take a toll on your joints, cardiovascular system, and confidence. While genetics play a role, part of the dilemma surrounds the troublesome nature of weight loss. For anyone suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), weight loss can be tough, but life-changing.
Sleep apnea and weight share a significant correlation. For example, obesity and being overweight are risk factors for sleep apnea because they involve the way you breathe. Additionally, sleep apnea related issues, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, are irritated when you’re overweight.
While it seems evident that weight affects sleep apnea, you might be surprised to hear that sleep apnea can affect weight as well. In a 2012 study, researchers from the Obesity Society identified that a lack of sleep contributes to weight gain. Another study from the American Journal of Epidemiology supports these claims by proving that sleep disorders contribute to a reduction in expended energy—thus leading to weight gain.
Losing Weight Can Change Your Life
People who suffer from sleep apnea, obesity, or being overweight can use weight loss to mitigate the symptoms that we commonly associate with those conditions. In a study conducted in 2009, researchers noted that “intensive lifestyle intervention will result in significant and clinically relevant improvements in OSA.” Intensive lifestyle intervention refers to the addition of a weight loss program and portion-controlled dieting.
Weight loss will minimize your risk of developing common sleep apnea related issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Moreover, the American College of Physicians suggests weight loss as the first treatment to try for symptomatic relief of sleep apnea.
Employ Enjoyable Exercise
Working out can be challenging, crowded, and if you’re just starting, awkward. Likewise, tracking your process can be challenging and disappointing if you don’t see the results that you were expecting. Nonetheless, exercise is necessary—it gives you energy, confidence, and a better night’s rest.
Weight loss doesn’t require a specific form of exercise—we witness some of the most exceptional results after completing an activity that you enjoy. This makes sense because it’s easier for us to maintain a workout if we love what we’re doing.
Dr. Iregui recommends selecting interest-based exercises. For example, if you love the beach, try taking a 15-minute stroll while you’re there. If sports interest you, sign up for a program at your local community center. Aerobic exercise allows you to mesh your interests with the heart-pumping activity that’s needed to lose weight, and thus counteract sleep apnea symptoms.
Your Diet Will Change Everything
In 2017, researchers from the journal of the European Respiratory Society noted that “dieting and weight loss are the cornerstones of sleep apnea relief.” To lose weight you either need to reduce your caloric intake (dieting) or expend more energy (exercise). By combining these necessary actions with conventional sleep apnea treatments (CPAP, oral appliance therapy, or surgery), we can improve your overall health.
Furthermore, dieting doesn’t mean that you need to hate what you’re eating. It’s more important to limit the number of calories and exercise than it is to “eat healthily.”