Sleep experts have found a close relationship between weight gain and sleep apnea, helping doctors and their patients understand how the two conditions can negatively impact overall health. The cycle of poor sleep quality and weight gain can often leave people feeling overwhelmed in managing their symptoms, making the goal of a healthier lifestyle harder to achieve – although not impossible. 

Sleep deprivation can make you feel hungry

Unfortunately, a full night’s rest doesn’t always result in an energized start to the day for sleep apnea patients. Oftentimes this makes food the next step in battling the common symptom of fatigue. Reaching for carbs and sugar-filled snacks is an easy solution to source a quick boost in energy levels, but it often results in a crash soon after eating. Resulting in patients being more likely to want to eat again. Although not all sleep apnea patients will struggle with overeating or excessive weight, an unbalanced diet can easily lead to an increased risk of weight gain and worsening apnea symptoms when not done in moderation. 

Healthy foods to consume for quick energy release

Exploring treatment options for apnea should always be the first step in managing symptoms, as this may successfully improve sleep quality and energy levels for some patients. However, as sleep deprivation can be unavoidable at times, it’s important to note appropriate food groups that can bring a burst of energy back into your life, especially when you are struggling with symptoms. For example:

  • Foods rich in Vitamin B, such as whole grains and eggs, can help your body convert food into fuel, resulting in higher energy levels. 
  • Staying hydrated with water, rather than coffee, energy drinks, or soda (which only gives a false sense of energy and a heavy crash), can also help to get you through the day. 

Sleep Restriction Can Cause Hormone Imbalance

The brain acts differently when suffering from a low quantity or poor quality sleep, throwing off hormone levels and other cognitive functions. Sleep apnea patients are more likely to experience higher levels of ghrelin – the hormone responsible for hunger, and a reduced amount of leptin – the hormone which makes you feel full. These imbalances can often result in overeating, as seen in obesity cases with similar hormone profiles – if a patient suffers from apnea and excessive weight, the risk of developing health complications is also likely higher.

Strategies to tackle rising ghrelin

Although research between ghrelin levels and apnea is still relatively new to the medical field, improving overall health by resolving imbalances in hunger hormones is still possible. Similar to the guidance given to patients living with obesity, avoiding sugar is a good place to start, as this can be responsible for slowing the reduction of ghrelin in your body and opting instead for healthy carbs and lean proteins in your meal choices.

Sleep Loss Can Hinder Your Ability to Lose Weight

Working out is the last thing on anyone’s mind after a bad night’s sleep, but when sugar-charged and carb-loaded snacks are met with a lack of physical activity, the ability to keep off the calories only gets harder. Sleep apnea patients often battle with constant fatigue, decreased efficiency for burning high levels of oxygen, longer recovery periods, and reduced metabolism rates, creating only more barriers to keeping fit. However, unless recommended by a health professional, giving up on a workout routine is not always the best solution.

Apnea-friendly workouts to keep you moving

In most cases, daily exercise, even for those struggling with apnea, can positively impact weight management and regulate the overall energy levels of patients, helping to improve fatigue. Maintaining a regular fitness routine is great for staying healthy and improving apnea symptoms. Depending on the severity of the condition, many patients can benefit from a range of physical activities, such as mild cardio, yoga, or even short 30-minute walks to keep active.

Get professional support for sleep apnea and weight management

To better understand apnea’s close link to excessive weight, patients and physicians need to consider body size, appetite, and eating habits alongside their apnea diagnosis. If you’re living with symptoms but struggling to make the essential changes in health to lead a healthier life, it may be time to consult a dedicated sleep clinic to get the solutions you need to move forward. We assist patients with managing their apnea symptoms, improving health, and helping them achieve better, recuperative, and more restful sleep. Call us to schedule an appointment today!

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