Relation Between Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which a person stops breathing for short periods of time. These episodes of non-breathing occur several times during sleep. Sleep apnea can cause daytime drowsiness, irritability, headaches, fatigue and can also have serious consequences such as high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. Obese people are at high risk of sleep apnea due to the constriction of airways while sleeping.

This is especially important in the light of the obesity figres prevailing in the United States of America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third (33.8%) of the American populataion suffer from obesity. About 350,000 people die due to obesity related disorders every year. Sleep apnea, if worsened, has the potential of causing serious implications for health.

How are Obesity and Sleep Apnea Related?

Obese people are at risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a sleep disorder in which a person has pauses in sleep due to obstruction of airway. Restlessness, snoring with intermittent periods of no breathing characterizes this condition.

In obese people, excessive fat in the chest area prevents the normal movements of the chest muscles and the diaphragm which affects the respiratory muscles and the airway. Excessive adipose tissue in the neck area constricts the airways and lungs, triggering obstructive sleep apnea.

Obesity in abdominal area and upper body highly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea due to obesity is also known as Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome.

A study funded by the National Institute of Health, also found that obese people with Type II diabetes are at a higher risk of developing this sleep related disorder. The researchers from the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University, tested 306 obese people with type 2 diabetes for sleeping disorder. They found out that most of the participants suffered from sleep apnea and they were not aware of it.

The researchers found out that about 30% of the participants in the study stopped breathing 16 to 20 times in an hour while sleeping. About 22% of them had more than 30 episodes of paused breathing during sleep – which is considered a severe form of sleep apnea.

To know more abot the connection of obesity and sleep apnea, watch the video below:

Treating Obesity related Sleep Apnea:

To treat obesity-related sleep apnea, weight loss through daily physical activity and a healthy diet is recommended. In severe cases as in morbid obesity, doctor may recommend bariatric surgery to overcome obesity.
PAP (Positive airway pressure) which involves using a machine to help in breathing may be used to prevent obstructive sleep apnea.
Obesity is a major risk for obstructive sleep apnea. With the increase in obesity, the risk of sleep apnea also increases.

Hence, losing a significant amount ofweight through exercising and proper diet can help a person in overcoming sleep apnea.

How Home Remedies and Yoga can Treat Obesity Related Complications?

Most of the anti-obesity drugs are partially effective. They are costly and require medical supervision from day one. At the most, these drugs and treatment techniques treat the ailment. They can hardly bring the much needed lifestyle changes needed to tackle obesity. Home Remedies are also easily available in our kitchen, their benefits are time tested and they can be taken in the privacy of our homes. They have no side effects at all.

Yoga, pioneered in the east, especially in India and is practiced for more than 5000 years. It can treat such sleep related ailments and disorders. Regular practice of Yoga can develop us mentally and spiritually apart from the associated health benefits. Realization of the benefits of Yoga can stop us from making wrong food and drink choices. There are several resources in the form of books, CDs and Websites on Internet which can teach us Yoga.

Sleep Apnea increases Obesity Risk

The reverse or the other way round is also true. A recent study conducted at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Obesity Research Center, suggests that the number of hours slept has an influence on the risk of obesity. The less we sleep, the more at risk of developing obesity. This fact could explain why people who suffer from sleep apnea, a known thief of sleep, tend to gain weight at an above normal rate.
Experts opine that this phenomenon has some obvious relation with two hormones – leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and Grehlin, a hormone that increases food intake and is thought to play a role in long-term regulation of body weight. Sleep deprivation lowers the levels of leptin and raises levels of grehlin.
These episodes of sleep apnea can occur hundreds of times per night, leading to transient awakening and casing sleep obstruction and deprivation. Hence, the increased risk of obesity. During these episodes, the levels of oxygen can drop to dangerously low levels and can result in cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beats), which can at times be fatal. Additionally, individuals with sleep apnea are much more prone to heart attacks and strokes.

Hence, sleep apnea is a serious condition, more so in obese patients. Does not matter which causes what, sleep apnea or obesity. Whatever the cause is, it becomes imperative to treat the condition immediately.

1 response to Relation Between Obesity and Sleep Apnea

  1. Yes, just to comment further, essentially, sleep apnoea (or apnea) is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Similarly, each abnormally low breathing event is called a hypopnea. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or "sleep study". There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea (i.e., a combination of obstructive and central), with OSA making up the highest percentage of the cases. In CSA, breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort; in OSA, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort, and snoring is common.

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