July 5, 2020
Have your jeans gotten tighter over the past few months? As the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic continues, gyms are closed, and many people are frequently ordering delivery or takeout food – and adding a few extra inches to their waistlines as a result. While a few extra pounds may seem like no big deal, it is important to know that your weight can actually affect the quality of your sleep. Researchers have found a strong connection between weight and sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that can lead to a number of serious health problems. Keep reading to learn about the relationship between weight and sleep apnea in Chicago, and how losing a few pounds can improve more than just your waistline.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, a common disorder that affects over 18 million Americans, disrupts normal sleep cycles by stopping a person’s breathing for ten or more seconds at a time. These short interruptions can occur dozens or even hundreds of times a night.
The most common form of sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in the throat by throat tissues or the tongue. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a range of both short and long-term health problems, such as daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling exhausted during the day
- Difficulty concentrating at work
- Waking up at night out of breath
- Waking up with headaches, sore throat, or dry mouth
- Sexual dysfunction
The Link Between Body Weight and Sleep Apnea
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that there is a strong link between excess weight and sleep apnea. Individuals who are overweight are more likely to have extra fat tissue accumulated around the neck area. Extra fat tissue around the neck places pressure on the airway, making it easier to become blocked during sleep.
On the flipside, sleep apnea can also contribute to weight gain. If you are not getting quality sleep due to sleep apnea, you may be too tired during the day to exercise or engage in physical activity. Sleep apnea can also cause your appetite to increase and lead you to eat more food or snack more often. Eating more while exercising less is a clear recipe for weight gain.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea in Chicago by Losing Weight
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, try increasing your rate of physical activity and adjusting your diet. Although losing weight is easier said than done, exercising regularly can have a big effect when it comes to dealing with sleep apnea. In fact, losing just 10% of body weight through diet and exercise can dramatically reduce sleep apnea symptoms and may even cure the condition in some cases.
For many people with sleep apnea in Chicago, losing weight can be tremendously helpful, but it may not be enough to completely stop sleep apnea symptoms. This is where a dentist can help you over the finish line. An experienced dentist can craft a custom oral appliance for you to wear at night. Oral appliance therapy and weight loss can combine to eliminate all your sleep apnea symptoms.
About the Author
Dr. David B. Schwartz has over three decades of experience helping patients in Chicago overcome sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. In fact, he is one of only 250 dentists nationwide to be awarded the designation of Diplomate of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. To learn more about sleep apnea and how it may be tied to your weight, visit the Sleep Better Chicagoland website or call (847) 677-2808.
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