Is being overweight putting you at risk of sleep apnoea?

5 Oct , 2020Health and Weight Loss

Sleep apnoea is a fairly common yet potentially serious sleep disorder in which a person starts and stops breathing while asleep. The walls of the throat relax, and make the airway narrow enough that air can’t pass through, causing you to wake up very briefly so that your body can reopen the airway. This is also the reason why you snore, as air is being forced out of the narrower airway making a loud sound and is why snoring is also a symptom of sleep apnoea. This waking/sleep cycle can happen multiple times in a single night and most of the time you won’t even realise that it has happened.

Are you at risk of developing sleep apnoea?

Anyone can develop sleep apnoea, even children. However, there are many factors that can increase your risk of developing sleep apnoea. One of the most common risks associated with this condition is obesity. Excess weight around the upper airways and neck can cut off air flow making for a sleepless night. Men are particularly at higher risk of developing sleep apnoea due to the fact that men tend to put on weight in their trunk/abdominal area which can put stress on the airways within the body while lying down. Drinking alcohol and smoking regularly can also put you at risk.

breathing

Are you at risk of developing sleep apnoea?

Anyone can develop sleep apnoea, even children. However, there are many factors that can increase your risk of developing sleep apnoea. One of the most common risks associated with this condition is obesity. Excess weight around the upper airways and neck can cut off air flow making for a sleepless night. Men are particularly at higher risk of developing sleep apnoea due to the fact that men tend to put on weight in their trunk/abdominal area which can put stress on the airways within the body while lying down. Drinking alcohol and smoking regularly can also put you at risk.

 

What happens if sleep apnoea is left untreated?

Sleep apnoea has been associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart failure due to the stresses it puts on the cardiovascular system and the nervous system. It can also lead to weight gain, believe it or not. Good sleep is needed for the body to properly function as it helps regulate your energy levels. When the body is lacking in energy, we often tend to turn to sugary foods in order to achieve short bursts of energy to stay awake during the day. This in turn can make your sleep apnoea worse and therefore making you crave more sugary foods and put on more weight creating a vicious cycle.

tired man at work

Have you checked your snore score?

If you’ve noticed yourself snoring or your significant other is complaining about you snoring up a storm, try out SnoreLab. It is an app that runs throughout the night, recording, measuring and tracking your snoring. The louder your snore, the higher your score. Loud snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnoea, however it does not definitively mean that you have the condition. If you recognise any symptoms or have concerns please consult your doctor.

How can weight loss help with sleep aponea?

If obesity is the most likely cause of your sleep apnoea, a lifestyle change may be in order. Evidence suggests that weight loss can help, leading to a better quality of sleep and in turn can help reduce symptoms associated with sleep apnoea such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

healthy lifestyle weight loss fitness

Can weight loss surgery help my sleep apnoea?

If your BMI is greater than 35 then it is unlikely that simply dieting and exercising will provide you with long term weight loss success. It is also important to consider not just the excess weight you carry, but where you carry that weight.

Weight loss surgery can be very effective in a situation where BMI has gone above 35 or you have developed other medical conditions which are limiting your overall quality of life.

To find out more on whether you are a candidate for Weight Loss Surgery you may like to book a FREE 20min appointment with our Patient Advisor or call us on 9466 7799. We would be delighted to answer any of your queries.

Co-authored by Charlotte Davey and Dr Arun Dhir