Losing weight is the key to finally getting better sleep

Most research has shown that maintaining a moderate weight is associated with improved sleep apnea. In fact, the connection is so strong that many doctors recommend that people with sleep apnea maintain a moderate weight. The information above is from a 2020 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

People with sleep apnea regularly stop breathing while they sleep. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when something blocks your airways. About 41% of cases of obstructive sleep apnea in adults are linked to obesity. This may be because excess soft tissue, such as B. tongue fat, can cause blockages in the airways. Here’s how a person’s weight affects sleep apnea, how and when people should try to lose weight, and other treatment options.

How weight affects sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea involves the partial or complete collapse of the airways, reducing oxygen levels and disrupting sleep. It occurs due to two factors affecting the airway: insufficient space for airflow and low muscle tone. People with obesity can have one or both of these problems. You may have fatty deposits in the upper airways that narrow the airways and make it difficult to breathe. Too little muscle activity can also reduce muscle tone. Research has shown a direct link between weight and sleep apnea. An 11-year prospective cohort study conducted in 2000 showed that weight changes were associated with changes in sleep-disordered breathing.

weight loss and sleep apnea

A lot of research has shown a link between weight and sleep apnea, but it hasn’t figured out why. The 2019 research examined the exact mechanism underlying how weight loss alleviates sleep apnea. She revealed that losing weight led to a reduction in fat in the abdomen and tongue. It also reduced the size of the soft tissues in the upper airways.
However, the authors found that reducing tongue fat was the main factor in reducing sleep apnea symptoms.

It’s also important to note that the amount of weight loss may be proportional to changes in your sleep apnea. Despite this, research strongly recommends weight loss for all people with sleep apnea, regardless of severity or adherence to other treatments.

Other treatment options

In addition to recommending maintaining a moderate weight and making other lifestyle changes, such as For example, to exercise and stop smoking if necessary, a doctor may prescribe one of the following treatments:

– Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

The most effective sleep apnea treatment, according to a trusted source, is to use CPAP. A CPAP machine provides constant air pressure to keep the airways open.
With regular nightly use, the symptoms can almost completely disappear.

– Oral devices

These are custom-made devices that a person can wear in their mouth while they sleep to keep the upper airway open. They reposition the jaw or stick the tongue forward.

– Oral and facial muscle therapy

Exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and face can be helpful. Not only do they strengthen all the muscles in that area, but they also improve the position of the tongue.

Risks and Considerations

Although doctors advise people with sleep apnea to maintain a moderate weight, it’s important to do so carefully and safely. Losing weight can be difficult and is a long-term process that requires small, permanent lifestyle changes.

Get expert nutrition advice

One should consult a doctor before starting any new diet, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Avoid shock or overly restrictive diets

Doctors don’t recommend diets or crash diets that severely restrict calories or skip meals. Instead, they advise setting a modest goal of losing 1-2 pounds a week.

Choose a nutritious diet

It can be a good idea to try a nutritious, balanced diet that’s high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Because it’s not realistic to drastically change a person’s diet overnight, experts generally recommend making small, incremental changes. This may include adding an extra serving of vegetables each day, substituting whole grains for white carbohydrates, and striving to get enough protein. Over time, these small changes can produce lasting results.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about sleep apnea and weight loss.

Can Moderate Weight Cure My Sleep Apnea?

It depends. An ongoing clinical study shows that early weight loss can cure mild sleep apnea. Other research suggests that losing weight can often reduce the severity of a person’s sleep apnea, but the condition does not cure itself.

Is it harder for people with sleep apnea to lose weight?

According to an older study from 2014, sleep apnea may predispose a person to obesity. This is because decreased sleep quality is associated with greater weight gain.

How much weight should I lose?

There is no single answer. Although a loss of 5-10% of body weight can be beneficial, a doctor may recommend a different amount depending on the person’s starting weight and comorbidities.


There is a clear link between sleep apnea and obesity. Most doctors advise people with sleep apnea to maintain a moderate weight, and in many cases this can improve their symptoms. However, before beginning any weight loss program, it is best to speak to a doctor first. Health professionals can suggest a safe and healthy weight loss program and provide personalized recommendations that take into account the person’s other health issues. Along with weight loss, doctors can recommend the most effective treatment.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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