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Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain

Submitted by New Jersey Snoring Solutions on Fri 07/08/2011 - 10:35

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, more than 12 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep disordered breathing, and most people are unaware that they even have it.

Sleep apnea occurs when throat muscles, which stay tense while awake, relax during sleep, allowing the airway to collapse or become obstructed by the tongue. As with a hose that becomes kinked, the flow stops, sometimes for 10 seconds or more. As the brain senses distress, people may awake suddenly and gasp for air, or they may simply snort and go back to sleep. This can go on hundreds of times a night, without the person realizing it and it can start to affect their overall health and well-being.

Untreated, sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, memory loss, obesity, and insulin resistance, a precursor to type II diabetes. What’s more, daytime sleepiness can also be a public health hazard. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents, and it can impair the human brain as much as alcohol can. According to a 1998 survey, 23% of adults have fallen asleep while driving. According to the United States Department of Transportation, male drivers admit to have fallen asleep while driving twice as much as female drivers.

Excess pounds can bulk up tissues in and around the airway, making the airway more vulnerable to collapse as muscles relax during sleep. Likewise, heavier people tend to have thicker necks, which can also be a factor. Thin people can develop apnea too; however, more than 50 percent of people who have the condition are overweight, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Sleep apnea may also contribute to weight gain. There is evidence to suggest that it may lead to an increase in appetite for unhealthful, according to a study last year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which found that people with severe forms of the disorder, especially women, were more likely to make poor food choices than those unaffected or with mild cases. While shedding pounds may alleviate or eliminate sleep apnea if weight is the root cause — other treatment options for sleep apnea include oral appliance therapy.

New Jersey Sleep Apnea Solutions is a sleep disorder center serving snoring sufferers throughout New Jersey in West Orange, Livingston, Millburn and Short Hills, NJ. Call New Jersey Sleep Apnea Solutions today for a free consultation at 855.WHY.SNORE or 855-949-7667.