Sleep apnea is a condition which affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Generally, it refers to a condition in which sleep is regularly interrupted with frequent patterns of waking up. While sleep apnea can develop randomly and idiopathically (without a detectable cause), it’s more often seen in patients that have one or more predisposing factors that can contribute to the condition. One of the most regularly seen of these factors is a high weight. Patients that are overweight or obese are dramatically more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than those who are not.
Sleep Apnea Overview
Sleep apnea is a devastating condition that, while not fatal, can severely impact your life. People with sleep apnea experience obstructions to their breathing passageways as they sleep. This means that they are not able to fully take in the adequate amount of oxygen that they need in order to breathe regularly. The result is that they oftentimes wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air.
These episodes may happen dozens or even hundreds of times in a single night, and most apneatic sleepers will remain in a shallow state of sleep and not be aware of waking up. The problem with sleep apnea is that it means that you’ll not be able to enter into deep sleep, and the result is that you will never feel fully rested.
Sleep Apnea and Your Weight
Obesity is a major factors in some sleep apnea cases. Having excess weight puts pressure on your breathing passageways and can cause them to be constricted. Extra weight may also obstruct your nasal passageways and your windpipe in other ways, thereby making it more difficult for you to sleep as well. It’s likely that if you are overweight or obese and have sleep apnea, you won’t have trouble falling asleep initially, but you’ll never reach the deep sleep state that is necessary for full resting and energy regeneration.
Dealing with Apnea
Most doctors who identify sleep apnea will recommend to lose some weight. In cases of mild overweight, you can incorporate exercise regimens and a change of diet in order to resolve the issue naturally and gradually. If you are very overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend certain types of surgeries which can help to reduce your weight dramatically. In all cases, a change to your lifestyle patterns, including the foods that you eat, the quantity of the food that you eat, and the amount and type of exercise that you get, will likely be necessary.
Sleep apnea can also be treated and is often remedied through the incorporation of a special breathing apparatus which helps to force air down your windpipe as you sleep, thereby allowing you to reach into deep sleep once again.