Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain

Is a lack of sleep thwarting your best weight loss efforts? There is much evidence to suggest that a lack of sleep goes hand-in-hand with weight gain. But first, it is important to address why you aren't sleeping well. Is your stress level or caffeine intake to blame? Or is your sleeplessness due to a common but very serious condition called sleep apnea? Sleep apnea can affect weight loss, hunger and hormone activity in a number of ways, thwarting your best efforts to maintain a healthy weight.

Simply put, sleep apnea happens when breathing is obstructed or ceases altogether while sleeping. Symptoms of the condition range from light snoring to waking up several times during the night, gasping for air. The most common form of sleep apnea - obstructive sleep apnea - affects approximately six percent of the population. But this number is expected to rise along with the increasing rate of obesity, because obesity is a chief cause of obstructive sleep apnea.

To make matters worse, those who are already overweight may gain weight more easily if they aren't getting adequate sleep, fueling a vicious cycle. Several theories attempt to explain why a lack of sleep may encourage us to pack on the pounds. Some say that a sleep-deprived person simply doesn't have the energy to be active during the day. They're too tired to get to the gym or even take the stairs, burning far fewer calories than a well-rested individual would. Others believe the sleep-deprived attempt to make up for a lack of energy by consuming a greater number of calories. Additional evidence surrounding sleep deprivation and weight gain suggests the problem may be hormonal.

Hormone function is largely responsible for the way in which fat cells respond to the food we eat. Cortisol is a hormone that is usually released in response to emotional and physical stress. When we don't get enough sleep, cortisol is released at an increased rate, making us feel hungry even if we've eaten enough.

And just because sleep apnea is most common among adults, do not assume that children are exempt from the problem. It's no secret that the number of obese children is rising steadily; and it's no stretch to imagine that some of these children will develop sleep apnea.

If you're having trouble sleeping on a regular basis, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Otherwise, a few simple tips and tricks just might help get you back on a regular sleep schedule. If you are already obese and suffering from sleep apnea, your chiropractor can discuss a sensible dieting plan with you, helping you return to a healthy weight and enjoy more restful, unobstructed sleep. And of course, never underestimate the importance of exercise. Exercising three to four times per week is crucial for restful sleep. And getting your workout in long before bedtime is helpful, leaving ample time for your heart rate and hormone levels to return to a resting state. Make sure your room is dark and the temperature of the room will remain comfortable throughout the night. If you're one of those people trying to squeeze extra tasks and activities into your day, leave more for tomorrow and get some sleep. Adequate sleep will increase your productivity during waking hours.

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SUSAN E. CHALMERS, LMT

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JOHN M. DIMASI, DC

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STEVEN L. VERGOTE, DC

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NATHAN J. LYONS, DC

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  • "Dr. DiMasi puts the skip back into my steps. He takes the time to make sure you are adjusted perfectly. I highly recommend him."
    Gayle C. Roseville, MI
  • "Dr. DiMasi has been treating me off and on for quite a few years. I have had problems with my neck for years. When I first started going to Dr. DiMasi, I really did not have much faith in chiropractors, but I am now a believer. I could not turn my neck without pain. I could not turn my neck when backing out of my car. After just 2 visits, my neck was greatly improved. Now when I feel a twinge, I see Dr. DiMasi. He is not only a great chiropractor, but a good person. I cannot say enough good things about him or his staff; (they are) always pleasant."
    Mary V. St. Clair Shores, MI