• Dr. Maryam Motlagh, D.M.D

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain?



Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes breathing to start and stop throughout the night. This condition usually has one of two main causes; the first — central sleep apnea — typically occurs due to neurological issues. The second — obstructive sleep apnea — generally happens due to airway blockage exacerbated by extra weight. While it's common knowledge that overweight people tend to suffer more from sleep apnea, the condition itself can also cause weight gain that further magnifies the issue.


Sleep Apnea's Effects on Energy and Fatigue

Sleep apnea typically causes snoring and prevents you from getting a good night's sleep. Due to this, you may experience low energy levels, leading to missing workouts and eating whatever food is on hand rather than preparing healthy meals. Additionally, this fatigue may also drive you to depression and comfort eating, especially if you don't feel well enough to participate in enjoyable activities with friends and family.


Decreased Willpower and Slow Metabolism

Along with low energy and fatigue, sleep apnea may also bring on brain fog that decreases your willpower. This is because when you're tired, you typically go for snacks that boost energy levels, and the go-to foods for that are typically carbs. This desire for sugary treats gives you a quick burst of energy combined with slowed metabolism due to a lack of restful sleep and may increase the number on your scale before you're even aware you gained weight.


Sleep Apnea-Related Hormonal Imbalances

A lack of restful sleep stresses out your body, which can in turn cause disruption in how your body produces hormones. Released when under such stress, cortisol may cause you to hold weight around your midsection that's hard to lose. Additionally, the hormone that signals when you're full — leptin — decreases when quality sleep eludes you. To make matters worse, ghrelin — a hormone that signals hunger — typically increases when you're tired.


Reducing Sleep-Apnea Related Weight Gain

While weight gain and sleep apnea may seem like a chicken/egg type of situation, whether you have the condition due to being overweight or you've become overweight due to the condition, proper treatment can help. Getting good sleep goes a long way in helping you regain control of your weight, no matter if the sleep apnea came first or after.


Another great way to manage your sleep apnea is by visiting the experienced team at Aesthetic Smiles! Our dental sleep apnea treatments can benefit those in the Multnomah County, OR area with proven treatment plans for patients of any age. We offer various solutions, including Vivos dental appliances, that can help treat even the most severe sleep apnea cases. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!


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