Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep every night?
If so, you’re not alone. According to a 2011 study, approximately 40% of Canadians suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.
Not only does this wreak havoc on your mood and ability to perform simple tasks during the day – it can be detrimental to your health.
In many cases, a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the main contributing cause of sleep disturbances. Some people say that weight gain can contribute to OSA, which, in turn, contributes to a terrible night’s sleep.
But is that really possible? Is sleep related to weight gain?
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea and What Are the Symptoms?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which people experience an obstructed airway during sleep. Contributing factors include:
- Excessive tissue in the back of the throat
- Overly relaxed throat muscles
- Excess fatty tissue around the jaw and neck.
An obstruction inhibits the amount of oxygen you get while you sleep. At times, you might stop breathing altogether. This does not make for a restful night’s sleep.
This is a very common condition in North America, with 25 million in the U.S. alone receiving a diagnosis back in 2008. That’s one in five people, but it’s estimated that millions more haven’t received a diagnosis yet.
How do Canadians fare?
A 2009 health study shows just how impacted the Canadian population really is.
The report showed that around three percent of Canadians have been diagnosed with this condition. Another 26% have symptoms related to sleep apnea or risk factors associated with it. That’s one in four adults that are at risk!
This study also showed a correlation between weight and OSA. Is sleep related to weight gain? According to this study, yes.
Around 89% of those with sleep apnea are reportedly overweight. Twelve percent of them have a BMI of over 35, indicating obesity.
Besides weight gain and obesity, what other symptoms do sleep apnea patients present?
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Making strange noises at night, like they’re choking or gasping
- Periodic cessation of breathing throughout the night
- Chronic fatigue during the daytime, not matter how long they slept at night
- Light, fitful sleep
- Dry mouth/throat
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depression, moodiness/irritability
Is a Lack of Sleep-Related to Weight Gain? The Alarming, Vicious Cycle
You’ve seen that weight gain can lead to sleep apnea. That, in turn, leads to sleep disturbances. But is a lack of sleep related to weight gain? Can OSA and not getting enough sleep actually cause you to gain weight?
The alarming answer is, yes. It’s a vicious cycle: You gain some weight, you don’t sleep well, you gain more weight.
When you don’t sleep well, you feel exhausted. There’s simply no motivation or energy to exercise.
Sleep is also related to weight gain in that it affects the hunger hormone. This hormone, called ghrelin, controls your appetite. If these hormone levels rise, as happens when you don’t get enough sleep, you feel hungrier more often. And your food cravings increase as well.
Unfortunately, a lack of sleep also adversely affects leptin, the appetite suppressing hormone. When you don’t sleep well, leptin levels decline, and this can increase your appetite, too.
According to a 2003 study reported in the European Respiratory Journal, weight isn’t the only factor affecting these hormones. The air pressure itself – or lack thereof – in patients with sleep apnea can cause these hormone levels to rise or fall.
Steps You Can Take to Lose Weight and Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Fortunately, there are steps you can start taking today to reduce your risk of developing OSA (and bad sleep related to weight gain). Here are some steps you can take to finally get a good night’s sleep.
1. Exercise Every Single Day, but at the Right Time of Day
A great, all-natural sleep apnea treatment is to lose some weight. In order to accomplish this, regular exercise is a must.
You don’t have to do anything crazy. Just a 30-60 minute walk every day can be sufficient.
Sleep can help you lose weight and promote relaxation so it’s easier to fall asleep at night. Don’t exercise too late, though, as this can actually keep you up at night.
2. Avoid Relaxants like Sleeping Pills and Alcohol
You’d think relaxants would contribute to better sleep. But this isn’t the case with people who have OSA.
With sleep apnea, you have to be careful about relaxing the muscles of the neck and throat too much. If the muscles are too relaxed, they (as well as any fatty tissue) can obstruct the airway.
3. Invest in an Oral Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you’re looking for a natural, effective sleep apnea treatment – we can help.
At Dentalife, we provide our patients with a number of anti-snoring and sleep apnea devices. Some of them are just as effective as CPAP machines. Plus, you don’t have to worry about a loud motor waking you up or having to wear an annoying mask every night.
Improve Your Sleep with a Sleep Apnea Treatment from Dentalife
Are you concerned that you might have sleep apnea? Is your snoring keeping your partner up at night?
We can help! Obstructive sleep apnea is not just an annoying snoring disorder. It’s something that can have a huge impact on your overall health.
To avoid an ever-worsening condition, we encourage you to come into Dentalife for a sleep apnea consultation. During this consultation, we’ll review all of your symptoms and discuss what options might work best in your situation.
In addition to this consultation, do all you can to implement the steps listed above. Doing so can help you break the sleep apnea-weight gain cycle.
Putting those steps into practice and finding the best sleep apnea treatment is a great way to get a better night’s sleep. Doing so could also add years to your life!
Would you like more information about how sleep apnea impacts your health? We invite you to contact us to schedule a sleep apnea consultation. We’ll explain in detail how this condition affects your health and how one of our dental sleep devices can help.