The Perilous Sleep Apnea and Weight Cycle
No one enjoys being overweight or obese. In the least severe cases, it can make us tired, groggy, and irritable. While genetics can play a role in you becoming overweight, we can also attribute it to the difficulties surrounding weight loss. For anyone who suffers from sleep apnea, weight change can be laborious—but life-changing.
There is a significant link between sleep apnea and weight. Obesity or being overweight is a contributor to sleep disorders because of the way it affects your ability to breathe while you sleep. Furthermore, extra weight gain can lead to the early development of other health problems related to sleep apnea, including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, sleep apnea can cause you to gain weight, thus continuing the cycle. In a 2011 study, researchers at the International Journal of Obesity found that sleep complications often contribute to weight gain.
The Influence of Weight Loss
Weight loss is a long-term solution for obese or overweight people that have developed sleep apnea. In a 2009 study, researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute saw men’s sleep apnea symptoms lessen after they introduced a workout routine over nine weeks. In this study, the men saw a 58% decrease in the severity of their symptoms.
Moreover, weight loss can decrease your risk of developing an array of complications that researchers link to sleep apnea, like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Weight loss is recognized as the first treatment to try for sleep apnea relief by the American College of Physicians.
Choose Enjoyable Exercise
Going to the gym can be expensive, annoying, and sometimes awkward. Determining your results requires intense tracking, and if you don’t see the results you expect, it might demotivate you. Still, exercise gives you energy, confidence, and it can help you sleep better.
Sufficient exercise for sleep apnea relief and weight loss doesn’t need to be intensive. Actually, some of the best exercises for your situation may be the most enjoyable; and if the exercise is enjoyable, you’re more likely to make it a habit. Dr. Plotka recommends choosing a workout that’s more accessible and something you can have fun doing.
For example, if you enjoy walking, see if a friend will walk around your local park or mall. Do you enjoy sports? Check out your local community center to see if they host adult leagues and join a team. No matter how you get your exercise, remember that it doesn’t need to be excessive. You’ll be surprised what an hour of aerobic exercise can do for your life.
Your Diet can Change the Game
In 2017, researchers found that lifestyle changes such as weight loss and diet are the cornerstones of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) relief. However, that doesn’t mean you need to substitute what you enjoy eating for healthy but tasteless foods. Typically, you can lose 5-10% of your weight in the first six months of lifestyle changes, but this weight returns. So instead of focusing on your exact diet, try tracking what you eat, lowering your caloric intake, and maintain a prominent diet and exercise program.