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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain

April 23, 2024

Filed under: Sleep Apnea — tntadmin @ 12:49 pm
Can Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated breathing pauses and reductions in breathing depth. It disrupts your sleep quality and can leave you feeling exhausted throughout the day. But beyond fatigue, sleep apnea has also been linked to weight gain, creating a frustrating cycle for many.

In this blog, we’ll get into the complex relationship between sleep apnea and weight gain. We’ll explore how sleep apnea can contribute to weight gain and how weight, in turn, can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. We’ll also discuss treatment options and healthy lifestyle changes that can help break this cycle.

Sleep Apnea: The Disrupted Night

There are three main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The most common type, OSA occurs when the muscles supporting your throat relax during sleep, causing your airway to narrow or collapse. This disrupts breathing and wakes you up briefly, often without you even realizing it.
  • Central sleep apnea: This type occurs when your brain fails to send signals to your muscles to breathe.
  • Mixed sleep apnea: A combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Frequent awakenings with a gasping sensation
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating

These disrupted sleep patterns can have a significant impact on your metabolism and hormones, potentially leading to weight gain.

How Sleep Apnea Can Lead to Weight Gain

Here are several ways sleep apnea can contribute to weight gain:

  • Hormonal Imbalance: Sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can disrupt the production of leptin (appetite-suppressant hormone) and ghrelin (appetite-stimulating hormone). This imbalance can lead to increased cravings for high-calorie, sugary foods, making it harder to manage weight.
  • Decreased Energy Levels: The constant sleep disruptions and oxygen deprivation due to sleep apnea can leave you feeling exhausted throughout the day. This lack of energy can decrease your motivation to exercise, leading to a decrease in daily calorie burning.
  • Increased Insulin Resistance: Sleep apnea can also affect insulin sensitivity, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. When insulin resistance increases, your body struggles to regulate blood sugar, potentially leading to increased hunger and cravings.
  • Poor Sleep Quality and Metabolism: Deep sleep is crucial for your body to regulate metabolism and hormones. The fragmented sleep caused by sleep apnea disrupts this process, potentially leading to a slower metabolism and weight gain.

Weight Gain and Sleep Apnea: A Vicious Cycle

While sleep apnea can contribute to weight gain, the relationship goes both ways. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for developing sleep apnea. Excess weight, particularly around the neck, can narrow your airway and worsen sleep apnea symptoms.

This creates a vicious cycle. Weight gain worsens sleep apnea, leading to more sleep disruptions and the factors mentioned above that can contribute to further weight gain.

Breaking the Cycle: Treatment and Lifestyle Changes

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it’s crucial to get diagnosed by a doctor. They can perform a sleep study to confirm sleep apnea and determine its severity. Depending on the type and severity, treatment options may include:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): This is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine delivers pressurized air through a mask to keep your airway open during sleep.
  • Oral Appliance Therapy: In some cases, a custom-made oral appliance can be used to help keep your airway open.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove tissue or widen the airway.

While treatment is essential, focusing on healthy lifestyle changes can also help break the cycle between sleep apnea and weight gain:

  • Weight Management: If you’re overweight or obese, even a modest amount of weight loss can significantly improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Healthy Diet: Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
  • Regular Exercise: Aim for regular physical activity most days of the week. Exercise improves sleep quality and can help with weight management.
  • Healthy Sleep Habits: Establish a regular sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep.


Sleep apnea and weight gain are a complex issue with a two-way street. By getting proper sleep apnea treatment and focusing on healthy lifestyle changes, you can break the cycle and improve your overall health and well-being.

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