Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain–A Vicious Cycle
There’s a strong correlation between sleep apnea and weight gain. It’s commonly known that being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for sleep apnea. In other words, as your weight increases, you become more susceptible to sleep apnea.
But scientists are now discovering that having sleep apnea also makes you more vulnerable to weight gain. That’s because sleep apnea lowers your metabolism, making weight loss more difficult.
Sleep apnea also promotes weight gain by causing your body to release ghrelin, a hormone that triggers people to crave foods that are high in carbohydrates. Ultimately, sleep apnea and weight gain form a vicious cycle, as the two conditions make each other worse.
CPAP & Weight Gain–Is There a Connection?
CPAP is a highly effective treatment for sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many patients only use their CPAP machine part of the time or they stop using it altogether because they find it to be uncomfortable or inconvenient.
A CPAP machine is loud and it forces you to sleep on your back while a steady stream of warm oxygen is delivered directly into the airway through a mask that attaches to your face. If you have to get up during the night for any reason, you need to completely unhook your CPAP machine and then reattach it.
Another cause for concern is recent scientific evidence that suggests using a CPAP machine could actually result in weight gain. According to Dr. Frank J. Domino, professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, CPAP “promotes a statistically significant increase in BMI as well as weight.”
Exercise and a Low-Sugar Diet Are Essential
Everyone should exercise regularly and maintain a well-balanced diet for optimal health. But these two habits are particularly important for people who suffer from sleep apnea. Together, changing your diet and eating more sensibly will improve your health and reduce the frequency and severity of your sleep apnea symptoms.
According to a study conducted in Sweden, men who ate a restricted diet for just nine weeks reduced the severity of their sleep apnea symptoms by 58 percent. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommends weight loss as the first option for sleep apnea patients who are overweight or obese.
Making Exercise Fun
It’s essential to find the right type of exercise that really works for you and fits your lifestyle. In other words, try to make it fun. Ballroom dancing, hiking, bicycling, and aerobics are all examples of enjoyable activities that are really good for you.
People don’t always have the time and energy to commit to an expensive or time-consuming exercise regimen, but that’s ok. You can start by just walking around the neighborhood or doing some light weightlifting with a dumbbell while watching tv. Consult with your physician to develop an exercise routine that’s right for you.