Do you suffer from sleep apnea? It’s a terrible condition that can cause havoc in your life. Bad interrupted sleep can you feel like a zombie throughout the day. Sleep apnea is correlated with being overweight – but does sleep apnea go away with weight loss?
Today we’re going to answer that question. So if you’re suffering from sleep apnea and wondering if it’s worth trying to lose weight to beat it – you’ll find the answer here.
Note: I’m not a doctor. If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, I recommend you go see your own GP about that. He will be able to give your personalised advice and diagnosis – which is probably better than a self-diagnosis from the internet. However, sleep apnea can get better with small steps, and it’s important to educate yourself as well.
Does sleep apnea go away with weight loss?
Harvard has mentioned that the most effective treatments for sleep apnea are weight loss and breathing devices. In their article they mention that the American College of Physicians emphasizes lifestyle changes for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s their recommendation for weight loss:
“The ACP’s first recommendation centers on weight loss for people who are overweight and obese. The link between excess weight and sleep apnea is well established. People who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway and block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep.
Though losing weight is easier said than done, it can yield real results. “If we can get people to lose weight, it would make both sleep apnea and other health problems [such as heart disease] go away,” says Dr. Epstein. Losing just 10% of body weight can have a big effect on sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, losing a significant amount of weight can even cure the condition.”
I have emphasized the main important things here. if you’re overweight, then extra tissue in the back of your throat can obstruct the flow of air. Once you lose weight, this extra tissue can become smaller and this can improve – or cure- your sleep apnea.
The relation between weight and sleep apnea
One problem between weight and sleep apnea is that sleep apnea also causes weight gain. Studies have been done showing that the less you sleep, the more calories you eat during the day. People who are sleep deprived, eat on average 385 kcal more than their well-rested counterparts.
“They found partial sleep deprivation did not have a significant effect on how much energy people expended in the subsequent 24 hours. Therefore, participants had a net energy gain of 385 calories per day.
The researchers also found there was a small shift in what sleep deprived people ate — they had proportionately higher fat and lower protein intakes, but no change in carbohydrate intake.”
Now, the problem lies in the fact that sleep apnea decreases the rest you get at night. So you’re sleep deprived brain will compensate and eat more.
So here we have a classic case of a virtual cycle. Excess weight adds tissue in the back of your throat. This causes sleep apnea. And apnea in turn make you sleep worse. Which makes you eat more during the day and you gain weight. And the circle continues…
Stories from people who lost weight and cured their sleep apnea
Losing weight is not easy. Especially if you sleep badly at night. One thing that can give you extra motivation and inspiration is to read the stories of others who lost weight and made their sleep apnea go away.
“I had been feeling tired and fatigued for months. In 2013, I finally went to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with weight-induced sleep apnea. To add to that, my doctor also told me I had poor circulation and high blood pressure. At just 32! I had to wear a huge mask that forced air into my nose while I slept each night — it was awful. I couldn’t believe I was barely into my 30s and dealing with all these life-threatening issues.
After having lost weight, I was anxious and excited for my next check-up. My doctor was absolutely thrilled with the changes that I had made. All of my medical issues have been corrected.”Source
“Fast forward a few years. At age 46 I weighed in at 305 lb. I had sleep apnea, arthritic pain, constant stomach problems, I didn’t exercise. Going up stairs was a bit of a chore. I had had episodes of atrial fibrillation since I was about age 25 and those episodes were getting more frequent and more severe.
Within 6 months I had lost about 60 lbs. I felt great all the time. The aches in the joints subsided, my cholesterol plummeted to 167 mg/dl (4.39 IU). My sleep apnea disappeared. My episodes of atrial fibrillation did not stop entirely, but were less frequent and milder in intensity. I took no medications, not even vitamins.”Source
“After eating this way for six months, my energy level was amazing and I could tell my brain was much sharper. My blood pressure and cholesterol numbers went into normal ranges, and I was sleeping better. In fact, I found I no longer needed my CPAP machine to sleep at night (I had been diagnosed with sleep apnea four years prior).”Source
Does sleep apnea treatment (PAP) cause weight loss?
On The other side of the spectrum, many people also find that when they get treatment for sleep apnea, they start to lose weight. This can happen either together with other weight loss strategies – although some people have also found that treating sleep apnea gave them good sleep back. Which in turn gave them the energy to move throughout the day – after which they started losing weight.
So, does sleep apnea go away with weight loss? Sleep apnea is a personal condition and what works for one person might not work for the other. However, much scientific literature and personal success stories point to the fact that losing weight can indeed improve – or cure – sleep apnea.
So if you’re suffering from sleep apnea, then losing weight, together with treating it should be number 1 priority.