Sleep Test

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Mar 25

Correlation Between Obesity and Sleep Apnea

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When a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea, there is a typical candidate that comes to mind -- someone that is overweight. Why is that? What is the underlying correlation between sleep apnea and obesity?

Lisa Shives, M.D., and founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Illinois, recently wrote on CNN Health, “Sleep deprivation due to poor sleep or too little sleep can cause hormonal havoc that leads to weight gain. For example, when research subjects were allowed to sleep for only four hours per night, the hormones that control appetite got all out of whack. Letpin, which acts on the brain to make people feel full, was abnormally decreased and ghrelin, which makes people hungry, was unusually high.”

Leptin, a Greek word for thin, is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. When the body does not produce enough Leptin, the body will never feel satisfied after a meal. On the other hand, ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates your appetite, and tells your body that you are hungry.

The vicious cycle of untreated sleep apnea and weight gain is a never ending, dangerous spiral. Even with logging in the proper number of sleep hours at night, sleep apnea suffers wake up numerous times throughout the evening.  Unfortunately, they never engage in the deeper levels of sleep, like REM and Delta stages, where proper rest is attained.

When people with sleep apnea go through their day feeling fatigued and drained, they are less inclined to exercise and/or make healthy nutritional choices because they feel limited by their lack of energy. Unfortunately, in this exhausted state, additional weight is gained, which can increase the severity of the sleep apnea and result in even more stressful, restless nights. People wake up feeling more exhausted than before and the weight gain continues.

Unless sleep apnea is treated and controlled, this cycle will continue throughout the lives of sleep apnea patients. If you or a loved one is struggling with this vicious cycle, please visit for a free sleep evaluation.  From there, your information will be passed directly to us. 

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