Why does sleep apnea cause weight gain?

A lot of people tend to underestimate the importance of getting enough healthy sleep. Not only does adequate sleep keep you feeling well-rested, but it also allows your body the time to recover and repair itself. Most people may need approximately eight to nine hours of sleep each night, which can seem like a lot of time – especially in today’s busy world.

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, you may be prone to more than just excess fatigue, you could also be gaining weight. 1 Here are a few reasons why your sleep apnea may be causing your weight gain.

The exercise and sleep conundrum

One of the last things you want to do when you’re tired is exercise. Regular exercise can improve energy levels and help maintain a healthy weight, but if you’re constantly fatigued, the motivation to hit the gym might not be there or, if you do exercise, you may find it more tiring than invigorating.

Fueling your fatigue

A lack of healthy sleep can do more damage than just leaving you feeling tired and not wanting to exercise. Many important functions take place in your body while you sleep that help you maintain a healthy immune system and balance your appetite. While you sleep, hormone levels that play a role in how hungry or full you feel are regulated. Without necessary rest, these levels can be disrupted, making you feel like you need to eat more. Feeling tired can also have you reaching for sugary treats or caffeinated beverages that are loaded with calories to help you wake up. While they may momentarily improve your alertness, those calories can lead to weight gain and ultimately cause further sleep disruptions.

The dangers of weight gain with sleep apnea

While having sleep apnea can lead to weight gain, weight gain can also make sleep apnea symptoms worse. When most people gain weight, they gain it everywhere – including their neck. Excess weight in this area can narrow your airway when you lie down. When the air has to squeeze through, it is often heard as snoring or wheezing. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your airway is blocked during sleep, so this excess narrowing can increase the number of times you wake up at night.

Sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of several other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes 2 and high blood pressure, 3 two conditions that have also been linked to excess weight.

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea or have stopped using your machine, starting CPAP therapy may be able to help you get better quality of sleep. Learn more about sleep apnea treatment options including CPAP therapy.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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