Sleep Apnea and Weight Loss

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“If you don’t sleep well, you can’t get well.” – Dr. Sam Sugar, MD, FACP

Sleep disorders and obesity are closely connected. As many as 80% of people who struggle with extra weight don’t sleep as well as they should. It’s a vicious cycle. Being sleep deprived makes it hard to lose weight and excess weight contributes to the serious sleep disturbance known as sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea? It’s a type of sleep disturbance that results in periods, from a few seconds to a minute or more, of pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. A person with sleep apnea often doesn’t even realize it, although the combination of nighttime snoring and excess weight is a tell-tale clue that a person may have sleep apnea. If the circumference of your neck is more than 17.5 inches, that’s a great predictor that you could have sleep apnea. Another symptom is persistent daytime sleepiness. Individuals often assume that their daytime sleepiness is a result of poor diet and/or carrying extra weight, not realizing that they may have a treatable condition that will improve their frequent fatigue.

When sleep is disturbed, there are hormonal changes in the body that make losing weight difficult. But losing just 10-15% of excess body weight can improve sleep apnea greatly, restoring daytime energy and returning the hunger and satiety hormones leptin and graelin to a balanced state. This greatly enhances your body’s ability to continue to lose weight.

Sleep apnea is generally diagnosed with an overnight sleep study and treated with a CPAP machine, an assisted breathing device that maintains continuous air flow as you sleep, improving the quality of your sleep. Since relief of sleep apnea also comes from a relatively small loss of excess body weight, a gastric balloon can easily help you lose enough weight to improve your  sleep, your hormone balance and your ability to lose additional weight.

If you’re overweight and you snore, if you suffer from persistent daytime sleepiness and/or if the circumference of your neck is at least 17.5 inches, you could well have sleep apnea and not realize it. Please talk to your doctor. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, consider an intragastric balloon as a way to help you lose weight, sleep better and wean off of CPAP machine that much more quickly.


Author: Rebeca Espinoza

Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon.  You can find her on at [email protected]

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