Getting too little of sleep can lead to weight gain, which may be partly why so many people with sleep apnea tend to be overweight or obese. Unfortunately, this can lead to a dangerous cycle, as they both work hand-in-hand. Extra weight can increase the risk of sleep apnea, and sleep apnea can increase the risk of weight gain. One study from the University of Colorado, Boulder, found that men can gain up to two pounds per week when they averaged only five hours of sleep a night. While the inadequate sleep alone does not lead to weight gain, it can set in motion a chain reaction of hormones that can lead you to gain weight.
A lack of sleep changes the way your body produces and uses hormones. Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones largely in charge of your appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates your hunger, so when you fail to get enough sleep, your body produces more ghrelin. Leptin is a satiating hormone that lets you know when you have had enough. When you are tired, your body makes less leptin. This means that you may be more likely to overeat and still feel hungry. Insulin may also be involved, as it transports glucose throughout your body. When you do not get the sleep you need, your body becomes less sensitive to insulin, which means that you are unable to get energy from the food you eat.
While you may not have much direct control over your hormones, you can take steps to balance them out. Treating your sleep apnea may be the best way to do this. By treating sleep apnea, you are restoring normal breathing patterns for your body to get the rest it needs. Once your body is properly rested, it will begin making hormones in the proper amounts again, which can make it easier to lose those extra pounds. Call us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment with our sleep apnea dentist in Los Angeles.