How is sleep apnea linked to obesity?

People who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have periods of sleep that are interrupted by apneas, or pauses in breathing. The causes of this are as varied as the people who have it, but there is a definite link between sleep apnea and having extra body fat. When people with sleep apnea lose weight, their sleep apnea improves.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

When you are overweight, extra tissue thickens your windpipe wall, narrowing your airway. Consequently, the size of your tongue and tonsils become a threat to the narrowed airway—especially when you are sleeping, and can cause a life-threatening condition known as sleep apnea. In this illness, an unsuccessful effort to take in air results in a dangerously low oxygen level while you're sleeping. Your brain shocks your body awake to keep you alive. If you have severe sleep apnea, you can be woken up hundreds of times a night.

Losing just 10 pounds can widen your windpipe, helping you sleep through the night and reduce your risk for developing sleep apnea. And when you sleep well, your levels of leptin (the hormone that signals when you’ve had enough to eat) rise. So, a good night’s sleep will help you lose even more weight.

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