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There are two things people most commonly associate with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), one is excessive weight or obesity, and the other is the CPAP machine.

Weight Loss and Sleep Apnea Treatment

An unhealthy body weight can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea – but losing weight can also bring relief to symptoms and, in some cases, cure the condition entirely. The CPAP – which is short for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, is a well-known treatment for OSA but can often cause complications due to its uncomfortable and invasive design. Many patients who work with the Sleep Cycle Center team often ask us about the alternatives available to the restrictive CPAP machine, such as lifestyle changes like weight loss and dieting, that may lead to the ability to sleep freely without the mask. A common question among these patients is how much weight to lose to get off CPAP, indicating a strong desire for a more natural approach to managing their sleep apnea. This question underscores the importance of individualized care, as the amount of weight loss needed can vary significantly from person to person.

Will Weight Loss Cure Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is often chronic – meaning lifelong treatment is generally necessary. However, this doesn’t mean exploring alternative treatments for OSA and different weight loss methods shouldn’t be considered as part of your long-term goal to move away from the CPAP and improve symptoms associated with the condition.

When we explore the relationship between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and body weight, the problem lies with two primary factors: hormone changes and excessive tissue. 

Increase in Excessive Tissue

Although the sleep science field is a relatively new area of study, the relationship between weight gain and the development of apnea is one of the most understood by medical professionals. When we carry excessive weight, the fat tissue has to be stored in the body – this is why those struggling with obesity may have a larger body size overall than the average person. Excessive fat is stored in adipocytes in the body and can be stored throughout the body in both areas that can be seen as well as those that cannot.

How Fat Cells Trigger Sleep Apnea Episodes

For patients struggling with sleep apnea symptoms, these fat deposits can be problematic in the upper respiratory tract, building up in the airways to cause the pathway to narrow and triggering apnea episodes when the tissues start to relax. The number of people living with sleep apnea is increasing on a global scale, alongside the growing rates of obesity cases, according to the National Library of Medicine. 

Imbalances of The Hunger Hormones

Once apnea has become a re-occurring health issue, the impact on sleep quality can have multiple consequences for the body, including the disruption to brain chemistry and balance of hormones. Grehlin, the hormone responsible for feelings of hunger, is shown to increase in sleep apnea patients, driving them to eat more frequently. In response, the hormone Leptin, which helps the body to feel full, reduces in the system, leading to episodes of overeating.

Stabilizing Hormones Through Weight Loss

The imbalance of the hunger hormones is often seen in both those experiencing sleep disorders and obesity cases, making tackling weight loss an important part of a treatment plan for patients hoping to reduce apnea symptoms and bring body chemistry to normal levels. Weight loss programs that incorporate physical activity are the most manageable for reducing body size and addressing high-calorie intake caused by hormone imbalances. However, these can be difficult to maintain when feeling the impacts of daytime fatigue, which is why we recommend our weight loss solutions services for ongoing support with the Sleep Cycle Center team. Find out more about our Juice Plus and Ideal Protein programs. 

Remember Weight Loss Isn’t Always A Sleep Apnea Cure…

…But It Doesn’t Hurt To Try! Weight loss may not fix your apnea issue entirely, but it can greatly increase a person’s health prospects. Those with apnea due to anatomical issues, such as an abnormality in the mouth, throat, or other structures in the respiratory system, may not find total symptom relief with weight loss. However, maintaining a healthy weight is always better for any person than struggling with obesity and will greatly reduce the risk of developing other health conditions. Patients who work towards a healthier body size and lifestyle often report improvements in their joints, blood pressure, and general well-being. In terms of sleep apnea treatment, many patients inquire about how much weight to lose to get off CPAP, highlighting a common goal for those looking to manage their condition more naturally. Essentially, even if weight loss doesn’t cure sleep apnea, there are very few reasons not to try it anyway!

How Much Weight Do I Need To Lose To Relieve Sleep Apnea Symptoms?

Sleep Science is a relatively new study in medicine, with data and guidance updated frequently to guide practitioners and their patients on the best approaches for managing sleep apnea. Currently, it is recommended that patients see relief of symptoms and apnea episodes by reducing their body weight by only 10-15%. However, this may change as more studies into the condition are released. In the realm of sleep apnea, particularly OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), the role of the neck and airway is crucial, especially during the night when relaxed muscles can lead to a narrowed airway. Reducing neck circumference through weight loss can significantly improve airway patency, thus alleviating symptoms. It’s also noteworthy that sleep apnea affects a diverse range of people, and individual responses to treatment can vary. Some may experience weight gain as a result of poor sleep quality, which can further exacerbate sleep apnea. Therefore, it’s important for healthcare providers to consider each patient’s unique circumstances and tailor their treatment accordingly.

Putting Weight Loss Into Context – A 6 Month Goal

10% of a person’s body weight can sound like a high figure, but it is entirely possible to lose this amount in a safe, healthy way – and in just under 6 months! The classification of a person as obese in the US is based on figures calculated when comparing height vs weight. For example, a person who is 5 feet 11 inches would need to weigh 215 pounds or more to be diagnosed with obesity. In this case, a weight loss of around 21-33 pounds (10-15%) may result in the improvement of apnea symptoms, particularly those related to OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea). As the average person can safely lose up to 1-2 pounds per week, it would be possible to reach 20 pounds of weight loss within only 5 months and hit the recommended apnea threshold by 6 months, although progress can differ between patients. It’s important to note that reducing neck circumference through weight loss can also play a crucial role in alleviating sleep apnea symptoms, as a larger neck can narrow the airway and exacerbate breathing issues at night. To assist patients in tracking their weight loss journey and its impact on sleep apnea, we provide comprehensive patient forms that gather detailed information, enabling personalized care and monitoring of any weight gain or loss during treatment.

CPAP Therapies Impact On Weight-Loss And Sleep Apnea Cures

If a patient is using a CPAP machine currently as a form of sleep apnea treatment, they may be wondering how this therapy can impact their weight loss journey. The relationship between CPAP therapy and weight fluctuations has yet to be fully understood, although it has been documented in some patients. When managing sleep apnea, particularly OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), understanding the role of the neck and upper airway in maintaining open breathing passages during the night is crucial. Some patients may experience weight gain as a result of disrupted sleep patterns or hormonal imbalances linked to sleep apnea. Our clinic simplifies the process for patients by providing easy-to-fill patient forms that help us understand their specific challenges and treatment progress. These forms are an essential tool in customizing patient care for sleep apnea, enabling us to address individual needs effectively and monitor any changes that occur during treatment.

Is Your CPAP Making You Gain Weight?

Studies discussed in the BMJ: The complex relationship between weight and sleep apnea suggest a small number of cases will experience weight gain as a result of a CPAP, potentially due to the reduction of leptin levels caused by the treatment. Other hypotheses suggest energy expenditure from reduced breathing work could also play a role in weight changes, meaning the body burns fewer calories during sleep. 

Treating Sleep Apnea To Treat Weight Loss

Although the CPAP machine may be linked to an increase in body size, it is not recommended to come off the treatment without a new plan ready to manage ongoing symptoms and health concerns. Treating sleep apnea directly can improve energy levels, mental health, and quality of sleep, all contributing to more positive outcomes in weight loss approaches. Managing sleep apnea, or OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), is crucial not only to prevent the risk of weight gain but also to address overall health issues including those related to ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat). Even if symptoms have been relieved as a result of the CPAP therapy or weight loss, it is recommended to speak with a professional who may re-test for apnea or evaluate the case to confirm the patient’s medical needs and requirements. To assist in this, our clinic uses streamlined patient forms to gather necessary information efficiently. Furthermore, our education blog offers a wealth of resources for patients and those wanting to read more about sleep apnea, its effects, and management strategies. This blog serves as a valuable tool for those looking to gain further insight into their condition and how to lead a healthier lifestyle, especially for those concerned about managing their fat levels in relation to sleep disorders.. Our Sleep Cycle Center tests for sleep apnea from the comfort of your bedroom, using our Home Testing Devices. Contact us to schedule your assessment.

What Are Options After Coming Off a CPAP?

Although CPAP treatment has always been a common treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, there are other options available to patients hoping to sleep freely without a mask. With frequent complaints such as skin irritation, restrictions in lifestyle, dry mouth, and infections, it is unsurprising that more patients are looking for alternatives to the CPAP machine. Our Sleep Cycle Team is dedicated to the movement of patients looking for new approaches to managing their sleep apnea, working with the latest advancements in treatments to offer long-term methods that can be incorporated into normal living. As part of our doctor services, we focus not only on sleep apnea but also on related areas such as ear, nose, and throat health to gain a comprehensive understanding of each patient’s condition. Our patient education resources are readily available, providing valuable information on various treatment options and lifestyle modifications. Moreover, we streamline the process by using easily accessible patient forms, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience for everyone seeking our help.. View our full-list of OSA treatments. 

Oral Appliance Therapy

Our Sleep Cycle Center team specializes in oral devices for apnea treatment, using a holistic mouth guard over invasive CPAP devices. This comfortable, wireless, and mask-free alternative relieves the symptoms of apnea by repositioning the jaw, reducing the frequency of episodes, and helping patients achieve better quality sleep. In addition to treating sleep apnea, this approach has been found effective in assisting individuals who are trying to lose weight. Improved sleep quality can reduce the risk of weight gain associated with sleep disturbances. Moreover, patients have reported that managing sleep apnea has made their journey of losing weight more manageable, as better sleep often translates to more energy for physical activity. This is a significant gain for overall health, as weight management and quality sleep are closely linked.

Weight Management

Weight management therapy is actively encouraged as a holistic approach to managing mild medical conditions and improving a patient’s approach to maintaining long-term, better health. This type of therapy educates a person about their lifestyle choices while putting the work into practice, offering clear instructions on achieving recommended weight loss for symptom relief and how to continue to utilize the diet for ongoing management. To avoid weight gain, the program focuses on lifestyle changes rather than quick fixes. Those aiming to lose weight can find this therapy particularly beneficial, as it addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of weight management. For individuals struggling with losing weight, this therapy provides tailored strategies to help them slim down effectively. To ensure comprehensive care, the program is often used alongside a wider treatment plan, which may include recommendations to reduce sleep-related issues that can affect weight. However, it’s important to note that while gaining knowledge is essential, the real challenge lies in applying it consistently.

Is it Time To Sleep Without The Mask Of Your CPAP Machine?

Learn more about the alternative treatment options at Sleep Cycle Centers. We support patients with the long-term management of obstructive sleep apnea from our clinics in Austin and Lakeway. Call us to schedule an appointment today!