Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain – What Do Experts Think?

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

does sleep apnea cause weight gain

Does sleep apnea cause weight gain?

The most common issue of sleeping includes sleep apnea, a disorder in which a person gasps for air during a sleeping cycle.

It is one of the most dangerous disorders for snorers who can have difficulty breathing when sleeping.  Though it is not too serious unless you are overweight, it can very well be the leading cause of weight gain.

What Is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the sufferer to stop breathing while they sleep. This can happen a handful of times throughout the night, and can cause them to wake up with a gasp or loud snoring noise.

The brain’s respiratory control centers are not getting enough oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes sleepiness during the day as well as headaches, cognitive problems, and difficulty concentrating.

Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain? Here’s What Experts Think

How does sleep apnea cause weight gain?

The main relationship between sleep apnea and weight gain has to do with the way sleep apnea disrupts your natural, restful sleep and causes you to have less energy throughout the day.

The cardiovascular toll that a sleep disorder takes can often manifest itself in extra pounds as well. A handful of other factors – risk-related behaviors and hormonal changes – can also make you more likely to gain weight if you have sleep apnea.

How Sleep Apnea Can Cause Weight Gain – 7 Ways

Does obstructive sleep apnea cause weight gain?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, causing the body to wake up frequently and make up for it.

unbuttoned shirt

In fact, over time, this interruption can cause more serious health problems like heart problems, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and more. But does obstructive sleep apnea cause weight gain? And if so, how does it happen?

Here are seven ways that obstructive sleep apnea can lead to weight gain:

#1 – It Can Increase Your Appetite

An increase in appetite is a common side effect of OSA. This is because lack of oxygen during sleep leads to an increase in ghrelin, which is a hormone that stimulates hunger and food cravings.

#2 – It Can Obstruct Your Ability to Lose Weight

When you’re awake for long periods of time without enough oxygen, your body will try to compensate by burning fat for energy.

However, if you’re sleeping more than 12 hours per night (or more than 6 hours per night if you’re over age 65), this won’t be enough to keep up with your body’s needs. Due to this, your metabolism slows down, and your body starts storing fat instead of burning it off.

#3 – It Can Make You Feel Tired And Not Wanting To Exercise

Because of these disruptions in sleep, people who have obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to be tired during the day and may also not feel like exercising because they don’t want to expend energy when they are already tired from not getting enough restful sleep at night.

As an outcome, people with obstructive sleep apnea can become less active over time and gain weight as a result of being less active than they were before developing this condition.

#4 – It Can Lower Your Energy and Cause Chronic Fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea is feeling sluggish or fatigued during the day. This can lead to less physical activity and lower energy levels overall.

fatigue

Sleep apnea also makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night, meaning you might spend less time sleeping than you did before having trouble breathing while asleep.

#5 – It Can Compromise The Insulin Levels

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body process carbohydrates, which are converted into glucose and stored as fat.

When your body doesn’t receive enough insulin, it struggles to convert carbohydrates into energy and store them as fat. This means those extra carbs will be stored as fat instead of being used for energy.

When you have obstructive sleep apnea, you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes because your body struggles to convert carbohydrate into energy. This leads to weight gain, but also increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.

#6 – It Can Cause Hormonal Imbalance

When you have sleep apnea, your body’s ability to regulate hormones is impaired, which can lead to weight gain. The result is that you may be more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a condition that includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and an increased risk for diabetes.

The hormonal imbalance that comes with obstructive sleep apnea can make it harder for you to lose weight because it affects the way your body uses energy and stores fat.

The result is that you may be more likely to store fat around your waistline and less likely to burn it off through exercise or other activities.

#7 – It Can Slow Down Your Metabolism

Studies show that it can slow your metabolism down, which means you burn fewer calories throughout the day. In other words, if you have OSA, your body probably isn’t burning as many calories as it should be—so you’ll be storing more fat around your waistline.

6 Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring, which is included in the list below. Other symptoms are:

1. Rapid Breathing

It occurs when you stop breathing for a period of time while you are sleeping. This may occur as a result of too much throat relaxation and your tongue falling back into your throat.

deep sleep

When this happens, your body responds by waking up and taking a deep breath to try to get oxygen in your lungs again.

This is called Cheyne-Stokes respiration, which is what also happens when you are having a heart attack or a stroke. If this happens repeatedly all through the night, you may not get enough oxygen while you sleep or be able to lose weight because it disrupts your metabolism.

2. Restless Sleep

A common symptom of sleep apnea is restless sleep, which can cause you to wake up more often than usual all through the night. This will make it more difficult for you to get enough restorative sleep, which ultimately results in fatigue during the day and an higher risk of weight gain due to lack of energy.

3. Snoring

Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. It’s caused by the body trying to breathe through the mouth and throat, which causes the airway to vibrate and make noise.

Snoring can be loud or quiet, depending on how severe your sleep apnea is. In some cases, snoring can be loud enough that it wakes up your partner or even you if you’re sleeping alone.

If you’re snoring loudly because of sleep apnea, you may notice that you wake up with a sore throat in the morning. This is because your throat has been trying to breathe through it all night long.

4. Gasping for Breath

When the body doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can trigger a gasp reflex that causes you to wake up and breathe in. This means that people with sleep apnea are often waking up several times all through the night. Not only does this disrupt your sleep, but it also interferes with your body’s ability to burn calories while you’re snoozing.

The longer you spend awake, the less time your body has to burn calories as it normally would during sleep. This means that you’ll likely gain weight if you have sleep apnea and don’t address it properly.

5. Recurring Nighttime Urination

Sleep apnea is a common condition that causes your breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep. This can be caused by a number of things, including excess weight and enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may find that you are waking up frequently all through the night to urinate. This is because when your airway closes while you sleep, the pressure in your bladder increases and wakes you up so that you can empty it.

6. Headaches or Migraines

Sometimes people with sleep apnea find that they wake up feeling groggy and with a headache or migraine. This is not a coincidence.

headache

In fact, it’s very common for people who have sleep apnea to have headaches or migraines on a regular basis. Sleep apnea causes an increase in blood pressure and oxygen deprivation during the night, both of which can lead to headaches or migraines.

Can Sleep Apnea Disappear If You Lose Weight?

How about the other way around: Does weight gain cause sleep apnea?

And can sleep apnea disappear if you lose weight?

The connection between sleep apnea and weight gain is a two-way street. While it’s true that people with sleep apnea tend to be overweight, this isn’t always the case. Some people with sleep apnea are thin, but still have the condition.

There is so much to gain in benefits, of course, if you shed those extra pounds.

The first benefit is that, if you lose weight, your body will be able to breathe easier, thus reducing your snoring and reducing the number of times you stop breathing during the night.

Another reason why losing weight helps with sleep apnea is because it reduces the inflammation in your airways. This inflammation causes swelling which blocks air flow through the mouth or nose.

If there is no way for oxygen to get into the body then this can cause serious health issues such as fatigue, headaches, memory loss and even death.

A third way that losing weight helps with sleep apnea is by reducing stress on your heart and lungs. When you are overweight or obese then it puts a lot of stress on your heart and lungs because they have to work harder than they should be working just to keep up with all of this extra weight.

This means that there is more work for them to do when it comes time for them to pump blood throughout your body while at rest, which occurs during sleep.

How To Treat Sleep Apnea And Hence Lose Weight Fast?

Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can cause you to stop breathing while you sleep. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea and want to know how to treat it, these tips and tricks will help.

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get a good pillow
  3. Use an oral appliance
  4. Get sleep apnea surgery
  5. Use a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP)
  6. Take natural sleep aids for you to be able to sleep better
  7. Make sure you boost your immune system to keep up with your lack of sleep
  8. Take supplements that enhance your mood and encourage better sleep such as Serenity.
  9. In case of sickness or respiratory ailments, make sure these do not further complicate your condition, take some precautionary measures.
CPAP

Uninterrupted: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Rapid Weight Gain?

YES. When you’re sleeping with an obstruction in your airway, which happens during an attack of sleep apnea, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline—and these hormones cause an increase in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which ultimately results in fat storage around your midsection, instead of burning away as fat stores should be doing.

Why Would Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain?

Another way that sleep apnea can cause weight gain is by causing metabolic changes in the body that lead directly to fat storage, even though those changes don’t necessarily contribute directly to weight gain.

One example is an increase in levels of insulin resistance among people who have sleep apnea, which makes it harder for them to lose weight). Another example is an increase in levels of cortisol, known as “the stress hormone”.

Does Sleep Apnea Make It Hard To Lose Weight?

YES. Sleep apnea makes it harder to lose weight because it disrupts your sleep cycle and makes you feel tired all day long.

If you’re tired, even eating healthy foods won’t help you lose weight because you won’t have the energy to exercise or cook healthy meals at home.

It also causes inflammation in your body, which actually increases your appetite so that you eat more calories than normal, and excess calories lead to weight gain.

Will Treating Sleep Apnea Help Me Lose Weight?

YES, but while it’s true that treating sleep apnea can help you lose weight, it’s not as simple as just treating your sleep disorder. You’ll have to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle as well.

Conclusion

If you suffer from sleep apnea and think that it’s your weight problem, you should know that there are plenty of ways to treat it. Sleep apnea doesn’t just make you tired. It can be a potentially life-threatening disease.

Fortunately, there is treatment, tools such as CPAP machines and other natural ways such as taking sleep aids and mood enhancers, that one can take to alleviate this condition.

Regardless of what others say, you shouldn’t be ashamed if you have a condition like this; rather, you should be optimistic and hopeful that the right care will help you get the support that you need. You deserve to be well-rested, after all.

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