Weight Increases Risk
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that left untreated can lead to cardiovascular complications, such as heart disease and heart attack. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a form of the disorder where too much or too little tissue obstructs the throat, restricting airflow during sleep.
While there is an assortment of risk factors, one of the most prevalent amongst OSA sufferers is being obese or overweight. In fact, OSA is common in the adult population, estimated to affect about 25%; while affecting as much as 45% of obese adults. These statistics show a scary correlation between the two conditions and fosters intrigue for the subject as a whole.
Even more unsettling, sleep apnea can cause you to gain weight. Researchers from the International Journal of Obesity found that sleep problems likely contribute to weight gain. This finding means that there could be an endless cycle of sleep and weight issues that feed off each other if the conditions are left untreated.
Weight Loss & Sleep Apnea
Weight loss is an excellent long-term solution for obese patients attempting to mitigate sleep apnea symptoms. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends weight loss through lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes and exercise. One study found that men who altered their diets over nine weeks saw a 58% improvement in their sleep apnea symptoms.
Weight loss and exercise also reduces the risks of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other associated complications. Moreover, weight loss is so significant that the American College of Physicians recommends it as the first treatment to try for sleep apnea relief.
Try Aerobic Exercise
Working out can be difficult. Not only is it easy to get bored, but sometimes it can be uncomfortable. Moreover, measuring your progress can be tough and can turn you off if you don’t immediately see the results you want. However, exercise gives you energy, confidence, and helps you sleep better. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a workout warrior to benefit from those advantages.
Exercise doesn’t need to be unenjoyable. There are plenty of options for fun, more comfortable workouts. For example, aerobic exercises don’t require crazy exertions of energy.
Do you like walking? Hiking trails? Did you play sports? All of these are viable workouts that can decrease your sleep apnea symptoms and lead to weight loss.
Specialists from the National Sleep Foundation recommend tailoring your workout plan to your current health issues. If you suffer from joint pain, they advise trying hydrotherapy. Exercising in water makes it easier for you to be mobile—despite high body mass index, arthritic knees, or anything else that’s restricting your activity.
Ultimately, your health is in your hands. Remember what’s important to you and focus on that; you’ll find a way to live a healthier, more comfortable, and more energized life.
Diet & Your Health
In a 2017 study, researchers recommended “dietary-induced weight loss and exercise as lifestyle treatment options for OSA.” With proper exercise and a healthy diet that’s free of fats and sweets, you can progress toward becoming healthier and stronger. That’s easy to say, but what does that mean? Well, a healthy diet is one that gives you the nourishment you need to feel good and have energy.
After you decide it’s time to eat better, finding foods with the proper nutrients is essential. These nutrients include:
Above all else, make sure you’re eating foods you enjoy. While weight is reduced by 5-10% at the start of dieting, one study found that the weight returns afterward. Rather than focusing on the exact diet, watch what you’re eating, decrease the number of calories, and combine exercise and dieting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will losing weight allow me to get healthy sleep without my CPAP machine?
Can losing weight cure sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is typically caused by muscles in your throat relaxing during sleep, a symptom that weight loss cannot stop. However, losing weight can do a great deal to reduce your symptoms depending on your case.
By strengthening muscles and reducing fatty tissue on the neck and chest, you’ll decrease the amount of pressure required to keep your upper airway open. This supports healthy airflow during sleep and can reduce your experience of obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
Does treating sleep apnea help with weight loss?
If you’re trying to lose weight through healthy lifestyle changes, effective treatment for your diagnosed sleep apnea is always an advantage.
A healthy diet and regular exercise are the most important factors for weight loss. However, promoting quality sleep by treating your sleep apnea can help you get the most benefit from your efforts. Your metabolism, or how fast you burn calories, is supported by uninterrupted sleep and healthy oxygen circulation. Waking up rested and energized will also help motivate you to achieve your exercise goals.