Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain And What You Can Do About It

Why does sleep apnea cause weight gain, and is there anything you can do to change that? These are some questions people who have sleep apnea often think about.

Although I don’t have sleep apnea, I have other issues, such as chemo keeping me up at night. The same choices which influence people with sleep apnea also affect how my day is affected by lack of sleep.

But today, we are going to discuss sleep apnea and weight gain. Are you one of those individuals who have this issue? Then have a read here to see how sleep apnea affects you as well what are some home treatments you could implement which may help.

Obesity has long been recognized as the most important reversible risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Analyses from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study suggest that 41% of adult OSA cases, including 58% of moderate-to-severe cases, are attributable to overweight or obesity. (Source: BMJ Journals)

Just by looking at the quotes from BMJ Journals, you can probably tell how sleep apnea affects weight gain. The faster you can get a handle on your nighttime sleep, the better choices you’ll make.

What Is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is usually a serious sleep disorder that affects an individual’s breathing. Most often, a person sleeping at night will stop and start breathing. There are three different types of sleep apnea conditions:

Central sleep apnea – this occurs when the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles, which will help us breathe at night.

Obstructive sleep apnea a.k.a. OSA – this is when throat muscles relax a little bit too much.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome – this happens when an individual has both central sleep apnea and OSA.

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

  • Waking up gasping for air
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Making the wrong choices
  • Snoring
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Irritable

Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain

Some people who suffer from sleep apnea will often underestimate how important it really is. This underestimation comes from their brain not functioning in the way that person who gets 8 to 9 hours of sleep at night would. Adequate sleep helps us feel rested, but it also allows our body to recover and repair itself.

Three different aspects of our life are affected, which cause weight gain when dealing with sleep apnea, and they are:

Lack Of Exercise

Regular exercise helps us to digest food as well as manage our calorie count. Exercising can also improve our energy levels, which are often low due to sleep apnea.

If we don’t get enough sleep at night, we wake up fatigued, which then affects how much exercise we get during the day. The motivation to workout or do any kind of movement becomes limited because we are already so tired of not getting enough sleep.

After adjusting for baseline differences, scientists showed that people with sleep apnea had, on average, a 14 percent lower VO2 max than control subjects. Furthermore, the number of times a person stopped breathing, for 10-seconds or more, per hour of sleep, could predict 16 percent of the variability observed in the group’s peak VO2. (Source: Science Daily)

Lack of sleep can cause more damage than just leaving us feeling tired without the energy to exercise. Exercise and sleep both go hand-in-hand. When we exercise and get enough sleep, muscle growth takes place; without getting sleep, muscles don’t develop the strength they otherwise would.

It’s the development of muscles that encourages our body to keep working out so we can get stronger. But if we wake up feeling tired, motivation to do any sort of activity becomes limited.

Make Unlikely Food Choices

Because people often wake up tired, they also make poor food choices. Poor sleep quality regulates the production of hormones related to appetite as well can cause day time sleepiness. Individuals who don’t get enough sleep often eat more carbohydrates than they should.


Carbohydrates are often easy soothers as well as they are usually within easy reach. What I mean by that is, getting a piece of bread is faster than having to use the energy to cut up an apple. Even the sugar content goes up for people who are lacking sleep.

Inadequate sleep can also lead to impulsive overeating. When we are sleep deprived, this lowers the levels of the hormone leptin. It’s this hormone that reduces hunger. Higher levels of ghrelin take place, and this is the hormone that induces hunger.

Sleep Apnea Causes Metabolic Syndrome

In some individuals, even physiologic changes occur, and this can cause metabolic disorders. Calorie intake increases during the day because of poor food choices, but not being able to exercise limits as to where those calories can get expelled.

Studies have shown that blood glucose levels, as well as insulin, go higher after sleep deprivation. Blood measurements show up as metabolic syndrome in our bodies. Insulin is an important hormone that allows blood to enter the body cells to be turned into energy. If our calorie intake is more than what we need, then the insulin will turn that into fat. The reason this happens is that centuries ago, the human body had to survive on limited food, but that’s not the case now.

Treating Sleep Apnea To Lose Weight

By treating sleep apnea, you’ll be able to lose weight. This happens because you are getting enough sleep to make good food choices and have more energy to exercise. Getting good sleep at night also means increasing your oxygen level, oxygen is what helps muscle growth take place. Even gaining a minimum amount of energy is good as you can do some light exercise such as yoga.

Workout routines often help the person feel positive as well; it motivates them to stay active. Instead of falling asleep while watching TV, you can incorporate walks or have enough energy to prepare better meals. Another benefit of getting enough sleep is that your leptin levels will increase while you’re ghrelin levels will decrease. This will help to reduce cravings for unhealthy food.

Use the Right CPAP Mask To Have Freedom Of Movement

If you suffer from sleep apnea and I’m going to conclude that you already have a CPAP machine. Most of us, when we sleep at night, tend to move around a lot, the same goes for people who have sleep apnea.

Having the right CPAP mask can make a difference. But most sleep apnea masks are limited to people sleeping on their back. You may need to have a CPAP mask, which will allow you to have the freedom of movement at night. I know I can sleep on my back all night long; this actually increases back pain. Have a look at the CPAP masks for side sleepers that we recommend, but they aren’t only for side sleepers, you can still sleep on your back if you want.

Knowing that you have freedom of movement at night helps to keep the anxiety at bay. Having the right CPAP mask actually encourages a person to get a deeper sleep.

Get The Right Mattress

Having the right mattress is essential. Our mattress determines the type of sleep we will have. The mattresses that are made today are hybrid mattresses. These mattresses combine coil and memory foam so that there is motion isolation as well the memory foam will conform to the contours of your body.

Have a look at our hybrid mattresses review see the one which will suit you the most. The standard spring mattress is no match for the hybrid mattress. Why? Eventually, the springs start to wear out their shape. I had a spring mattress many years ago; the spring ended up popping out on the side, which became a health hazard.

Buy A Recliner To Sleep Without Your Throat Closing Off

If sleeping on a mattress doesn’t work for you, then you should consider getting a recliner. Nowadays, recliners have much quality that a person with sleep apnea will appreciate. Their leading quality is being able to sleep upright without the throat muscles relaxing to such a point that they start to obstruct breathing.

We had a look at different recliners to see which ones would work for people who have sleep apnea. Have a look at our review of recliners for sleep apnea to see if there is one that you will like.

Conclusion Of Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain

Now that you are more aware of why does sleep apnea cause weight gain, remember you have choices on how to get proper sleep. By getting good sleep, you will make better choices with your food and exercise.

Share in the comments below how you deal with sleep apnea and weight issues.

4 thoughts on “Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain And What You Can Do About It”

  1. Helo Jagi, a big thanks to you for sharing this insightful and educating post on why does sleep apnea causes weight gain. As a matter of fact my brother has been a victim of the sleep apnea which I never find funny not even a bit. But I am so glad he has worked on it and he’s not longer a victim. I so much agree with you that excercise does really help the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is also very helpful. 

    • Sleep apnea is not funny at all, it’s a serious medical condition. Glad your brother has found his way out. 

  2. Thanks for this very important topic about sleep apnoea and the associating ills. The irony of this is that many people live with this without knowing that it is the cause of a health condition they battle. This post has increased my understanding of this disorder, its associating ills and the remedy. It is interesting to note that treating apnoea can help in weight loss. Though I don’t have this sleep disorder myself, I have family friends that I will be able to help with this knowledge. Debbie.

    • Glad you found the information in this post helpful. 


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