Obesity is a major risk factor of sleep apnea in both adults and children. Fat deposits build up around the neck. Generally, this causes the airway to narrow and makes obstruction more likely. Correspondingly, untreated sleep apnea worsens obesity. Without sleep, hormones related to weight control, energy expenditure and appetite are negatively altered. Research shows that four days of CPAP treatment might be all it takes to ensure those hormones function properly. So sleep apnea sufferers will no longer gain weight as easily and can lose weight like normal.
Related: Associated Health Risks of Sleep Apnea
What is CPAP?
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a common, safe and effective treatment for sleep apnea. A constant supply of air provides enough pressure to hold open the air passage. Sleepers should no longer have an issue with obstruction.
How Does CPAP Help With Weight Loss?
CPAP therapy helps to consolidate fragmented sleep patterns which are often associated with untreated sleep apnea. This fragmented sleep occurs when adrenaline is triggered to signal the brain that the body is awake (essentially tricking the body into believing it’s away even though you’re technically not) so that the muscles in your airway shift to allow oxygen in. This prevents deeper stages of sleep and is disruptive throughout the night. With a higher quality of sleep, hormones begin to regulate and sleep apnea patients undergoing CPAP treatment don’t feel as sleepy and fatigued throughout the day.
Better sleep also means more energy to engage in healthy activities. As patients begin to lose weight, sleep apnea improves. In fact, as little as a 10% reduction in total body weight can lead to a significant improvement in the severity of sleep apnea.
Additional Activities to Improve Weight Loss
To help facilitate weight loss there are other positive dietary changes and physical activity you can make such as:
- Avoid eating fast food
- Eat more lean protein like chicken and fish
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity per week
- Strength train two or more days per week
These goals should be reached gradually and you should always consult with your regular doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.