Sleep Apnea Treatment May Help with Weight Loss
Posted: January 22, 2021
If you have sleep apnea, then you’ve likely been told that you need sleep apnea treatment. One common treatment is CPAP therapy, which helps keep your airways open as you sleep. However, new research suggests that CPAP therapy may also help improve weight loss for patients with sleep apnea.
An estimated 60-90% of those with sleep apnea are overweight or obese. What’s worse is that gaining even 10% of your baseline weight can make you six times more likely to develop more severe sleep apnea. Therefore, weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight is important if you’re overweight and have sleep apnea.
New Research Shows Sleep Apnea Treatment with CPAP Therapy May Help with Weight Loss
A recent study conducted at the University of Arkansas looked at the effects of CPAP sleep apnea treatment on weight loss. The study involved three groups: one non-sleep apnea group, one sleep apnea group who received CPAP, and one sleep apnea group who didn’t receive CPAP. Everyone involved in the study was also obese at the beginning of the study.
Each participant started on a weight loss program to help lose weight. This included restricting calories to 800 per day and an exercise program, as well as weekly counseling and cognitive behavior therapy. The researchers followed their progress over 16 weeks to determine the results.
The CPAP therapy group lost an average of 5.7 pounds more than any other group. At the end of the study, the CPAP group lost an average of 26.7 pounds. The sleep apnea group who didn’t receive sleep apnea treatment lost an average of 21 pounds and the non sleep apnea group lost an average of 19.
Researchers in the study concluded that CPAP therapy was correlated with better weight loss on the weight loss program. They noted that this could be because CPAP may help improve sleep quality, which may have a major impact on weight management.
In addition, other studies have found that sleep apnea treatment with CPAP can help reduce belly fat, also known as visceral fat, even without significant weight loss. Visceral fat is a concern because it increases your risk for serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
While experts don’t recommend solely using CPAP therapy for weight loss, this evidence suggests that it may help you shed more fat with calorie restriction if you have sleep apnea.
The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Obesity
The link between weight gain and sleep apnea is quite complex, and experts are still studying the connection. In the past, many thought that obesity caused sleep apnea, and obesity is certainly one of the main risk factors of sleep apnea. However, research suggests that sleep apnea may also cause weight gain. Therefore, these two different conditions may be interconnected in major ways.
In addition to being linked, sleep apnea and obesity also share many of the same health risks. For example, both increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and other serious, potentially life-threatening conditions.
Obesity can Cause Sleep Apnea
Why might obesity lead to sleep apnea? Much of this has to do with the extra fat on your body. When you gain weight, your body distributes fat all around your body. Some of this fat ends up on your neck. This extra fat can make it easier for your airways to collapse while you sleep.
Also, extra fat, especially around the belly area, can also affect your breathing. Abdominal fat can reduce your lung capacity, which can make it difficult to take long, steady breaths. This could also contribute to the pauses in breathing that happen with sleep apnea.
Weight loss is a common component of sleep apnea treatment. Our providers often recommend weight loss in addition to CPAP therapy or other treatment options. For example, we may work with you to determine a good diet and exercise regimen to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
However, weight loss may be harder with untreated sleep apnea and may not fully treat your sleep apnea. Therefore, we generally recommend CPAP therapy as the first-line sleep apnea treatment.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms Can Make it Hard to Shed Extra Pounds
Though being overweight or obese can lead to developing sleep apnea, sleep apnea can actually make you gain weight! That can create a vicious cycle that can make it difficult to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
There may be several reasons to explain this cycle, many of which come down to poor sleep quality from sleep apnea. This may help explain why sleep apnea treatment may help you lose more weight when following a diet and exercise regimen.
Sleep Apnea Affects Hunger Hormones
Sleep apnea may also affect your appetite. Specifically, sleep deprivation from sleep apnea may impact how your body regulates hunger hormones like insulin, leptin, and ghrelin. Insulin helps your body regulate blood sugar levels. Leptin is the hormone that tells your body you’re full, while ghrelin tells your body you’re hungry.
Studies have found that even 30 minutes of lost sleep can affect how your body releases these hormones. In one study, researchers found that levels of ghrelin hormone was higher in those with sleep apnea than people who did not, even though the participants had the same body mass. However, after just two days of CPAP sleep apnea treatment, their ghrelin levels came down to be more equal to those who didn’t have sleep apnea. Therefore, CPAP therapy may help your body balance the hormones related to appetite.
Sleep Apnea Treatment for REM Sleep to Burn Calories
Also, your body burns more calories during REM sleep, as your brain is most active. However, those with untreated sleep apnea may be missing out on this rapid calorie burning. With sleep apnea, your body wakes up throughout the night to help keep you breathing, which can interrupt REM sleep. Therefore, you may not burn as many calories during sleep as someone who doesn’t have sleep apnea. CPAP therapy can help keep your airways open to reduce the number of times you wake up at night, which can help improve REM sleep and, by association, may also help with nighttime calorie burning.
Other Symptoms Make it Hard to Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
Also, many other sleep apnea symptoms can make it hard to do what you need to do to lose weight. For example, daytime fatigue can make your body crave refined carbs and sugars to help give you a burst of energy. However, these can also contribute to more weight gain and storing fat.
Fatigue from sleep apnea can also make it difficult to find the energy and motivation to exercise. Because you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you may wake up tired and feel fatigued throughout the day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t usually create the right recipe for working out to burn calories and fat.
Visit our Men’s Health Clinic for Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you’re feeling tired during the day, have issues sleeping or waking up at night, snore, or notice any other symptoms of sleep apnea, our team at Low T Center is here to help. Our men’s health clinic is one of the leading sleep apnea treatment providers in America. We assist with sleep apnea diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring to help you start the path toward better health. Make an appointment today or order a home sleep test online to learn if you have sleep apnea.
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.