Sleep Apnea Weight Gain Connection: One BIG Reason Why you Might be Gaining Weight

Quality Sleep for a Quality Life

Sleep Apnea Weight Gain Connection: One BIG Reason Why you Might be Gaining Weight

May 18, 2017 Lifestyle Solutions 6
sleep apnea and weight gain link

It’s common knowledge that some people naturally have a lower metabolism than others, which means they will put on extra pounds more easily.

But, did you know that genes and eating habits might not be the only culprits responsible for causing you to gain weight?

Enter:  Sleep Apnea


sleep apnea weight gain connection
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder affecting an estimated 22 million Americans. One of the most obvious signs of sleep apnea is snoring while sleeping and feeling tired or sleepy throughout the day.

There is an intimate link between poor sleep and obesity, studies show that people that suffer from sleep apnea often suffer from obesity.

That being said, sleep apnea might actually be causing you to gain weight. In this post, you will quickly understand the sleep apnea weight gain connection and learn some simple ways to stop gaining weight because of it.

Sleep apnea is a big problem because it makes you sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation causes a lot of harm to your body that can range from cardiovascular disease to irritability.

It also makes it harder for you to go about your day. If you’ve been the parent to any young children, I’m sure you vividly remember how difficult it was to do anything after staying up throughout the early morning hours with your child. It can do things like make you fall asleep behind the wheel, fall asleep at work, or prevent you from giving your 100 percent at school.

I personally struggled with sleep deprivation during my first few years of college. I clearly remember sitting in class trying my hardest to pay attention to my physics professor, meanwhile, this “fog” in my mind just wouldn’t let me stay awake. If it hadn’t been for my friend Kyle tutoring me through the material I would not have any idea what causes magnets to stick together. (Kyle- if you’re reading this, thanks man. I will never be able to make it up to you)

But sleep deprivation doesn’t just cause you to feel sleepy all day. People who struggle with sleep deprivation will put on extra pounds more easily.

Weight gain is usually accompanied by an increase in neck width. As your body puts on more weight, it starts to store more fat in the neck area. This increase of neck size is one of the major risk factors for sleep apnea.

sleep apnea weight gain connection


Sleep apnea can cause you to gain weight because

Your Metabolism Slows Down 

fat gain and sleep

Most people have heard the word “metabolism” uttered multiple times by multiple people. Your metabolism is simply the long list of chemical reactions hapenning in your body that allow you to stay alive. Your metabolism involves three main tasks:

– Converting food to energy

– Converting nutrients to body organs

– Waste disposal

Sleep deprivation lowers your metabolism, meaning that all of these life sustaining functions start happening more slowly. You start converting food to energy and disposing of waste more slowly, which leads to weight gain as you accumulate more and more calories.



Your Hormones Become Imbalanced

Meet Grehlin and Leptin

ghrelin sleep deprivation

My name is Ghrelin 🙂

leptin sleep deprivation

My name is Leptin :/









Think of Grehlin and Leptin as a sort of Ying Yang. Grehlin is an action hormone; it tells the body to go eat. The more Grehlin in your body, the hungrier you feel. Grehlin is absolutely necessary, but I’m sure you can see how having too much of it can be a problem.

Leptin does the opposite of Grehlin, it is a stop hormone that tells the body to stop eating. The more you have, the less hungry you will feel.

Sleep deprivation increases the amount of Grehlin in your body and decreases the amount of Leptin. In other words, sleep apnea can ultimately increase your appetite and make you eat more per meal.


You Have Less Energy (Motivation) to Exercise 

osa weight gain

As most of us have experienced at one point or another, sleepiness never acts alone. Oftentimes, it comes with a lack of energy or a loss of motivation for physical activity. Both of these can perpetuate the cycle of sleep apnea and weight gain by affecting your motivation to exercise and stay active.



Now, time for the good news!

For all the extra health problems and general annoyance that sleep apnea causes, it has a very high treatment success rate (close to 100% in some instances). Treating sleep apnea means saying good bye to daily sleep deprivation and any weight gain that might be resulting from it.

From personal experience, eliminating sleep apnea will truly revitalize your day to day activities and give you more motivation to work out and achieve other goals you have set out for yourself.


What are some effective treatments for sleep apnea?

One of the most well-known ways to treat sleep apnea is by using a sleep apnea machine, also known as CPAP. This involves sleeping with a mask that pushes more air into your airways and prevents you from waking up involuntarily throughout the night. Check out this post to learn more about what CPAP is and how it works.


cpap treatment

CPAP is the most recommended treatment method due to its extremely high success rate. One drawback is that you have to sleep with a CPAP mask every night. Also, many masks do not allow you to sleep on your side, and depending on your face structure, you might have to try out multiple masks before you find one that doesn’t leak. I currently use a Resmed Airfit F20, which fits well and allows me to sleep on my side more comfortably than other masks I’ve used. 


Another way of treating sleep apnea is by using a sleep apnea dental appliance, also known as a jaw advancing device (JAD). Using a jaw advancing device might be a much more effective treatment method than CPAP because it is much more comfortable. Contrary to CPAP, with a jaw advancing device you are able to sleep in whatever position you normally would.


JAD as sleep apnea treatment

Jaw Advancing Devices have also been shown to achieve upwards of an 80% success rate for treating sleep apnea. However, just as with CPAP, JAD has a few drawbacks. The first one being that they are generally not suitable for people with severe sleep apnea. Also, they are not recommended for people with poor dental health.



A third way of treating sleep apnea is by doing certain vocal, oral, and breathing exercises to open up your airways. Some of these exercises have actually been proven by doctors to help improve sleep apnea. The benefit of using this approach to treat sleep apnea is that it is long lasting, natural, and allows you to treat your sleep apnea without having to sleep with anything attached to your face or mouth. For those that have been frustrated with CPAP or JAD, this can be a game changer.


Sleep Apnea Exercise

Click on here to see how mouth exercises can help treat sleep apnea!

You can end the cycle

Sleep apnea doesn’t have to be yet another obstacle to deal with on the path to your weight-loss goals. If you have sleep apnea, know that addressing it with the proper treatment options for your case can essentially eliminate it. Treatment truly makes a world of difference by making easier to lose weight and improving your overall health.

The journey to a life without sleep apnea may be a challenging one, but it definitely doesn’t have to be a lonely one. If you have questions about anything related to sleep apnea, or if you would like more information about a specific topic, please leave a comment and I’ll help you get whatever your need.

Stay Rested



PS. If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, check out this quick quiz that will help you determine if you are at risk!



6 Responses

  1. jeffrey16201 says:

    Interesting article on sleep apnea and weight gain, it is true many people with this disorder are overweight. I noticed when I am low on energy I eat more, I think my brain is telling me I need more food for energy when actually I should be getting more sleep.

    I am not obese, but I am over weight and I do not sleep well most nights so I am low on energy during the day.

    How can I find out if I have this sleep apnea, I live alone so there is no one to ask if I have the nightime apea symptoms?

    • Juan Avila says:

      Hi Jeffrey

      Some symptoms that you might have sleep apnea that you can identify by yourself:

      – Feeling tired after waking up in the morning

      – Having to take naps during the day

      – Trouble focusing on your work

      – Waking up with slight headaches

      – Suffering from high blood pressure

      Another good way to see if you might have sleep apnea is to sleep for your regular 7.5 – 8 hours. Then, if at any point in the day you feel like if you sat in a dimly lit room by yourself you would fall asleep, it is a sign that there might be something wrong with your sleep.


  2. Katie says:

    Sleep apnea can be a really terrifying condition. Its great to know that it is usually reversible. My dad snores really badly but he isn’t overweight. He was a smoker for most of his life up until recently though. Do you know if smoking can be a cause of sleep apnea?

    • Juan Avila says:

      Hi Katie

      Being overweight is one of the contributing factors to having sleep apnea. That being said there are lots of us out there, including myself, that suffer from sleep apnea and are not overweight.

      Great question, smoking is actually a contributing factor as well. Smoking causes inflamattion in your upper airways, this makes it harder for you to breathe throughout the night and can lead to obstructive sleep apnea or to worsening of the condition if your father already had it. The medical standard recommendation for this is to treat both the smoking and the sleep apnea. The good news is since it looks like your father has already stopped smoking, he’s already done with the toughest part.

      I will probably write a post on this later on. Thanks for the comment.


  3. henryan says:

    This is an Interesting article, someone who suffer sleep apnea will cause sleep deprived. Sleep deprived can trigger weight gain. What is cause sleep apnea? I think if this left untreated will cause many serious things. Because have a good sleep is very important. Fortunately you give the solution for sleep apnea. Thank for sharing it.

    • Juan Avila says:

      Sleep apnea is usually caused by an obstruction in the airways. Having a larger neck size or narrower airway shapes can put you at higher risk for sleep apnea. Some of these factors are genetic, so checking whether you have any parents or grandparents that have sleep apnea can help in determining if you are at risk too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *