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Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain: Facts That You Need to Know

Apr 08, 2021
We all know that quality sleep is necessary for good health. A good night’s rest keeps your hormones in check and maintains your body’s overall health and function.

We all know that quality sleep is necessary for good health. A good night’s rest keeps your hormones in check and maintains your body’s overall health and function. When a problem like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) gets in the way, it can harm your body in many ways. Sleep apnea produces a variety of hormonal responses that can raise your risk of gaining weight, worsening the primary OSA, and more. In addition, it’s also understood that obesity can trigger sleep apnea. Many researches are discovering a link between sleep apnea and weight gain.

Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain?

There are 18 million adults in the US living with sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Moreover, it’s estimated that about 70% of adult OSA patients are overweight or obese. The close link between the two is the outcome of side effects of both disorders that feed into one another, including some endocrinological issues.

While your body weight is not the only reason why you may develop sleep apnea, but being obese puts you at a higher considerable risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea(OSA). Carrying additional weight can cause troubled breathing during sleep. In contrast, someone who isn’t obese but has a non-treated sleep-breathing disorder may start gaining weight as a consequence. Unfortunately, you may find it challenging to lose weight in this situation because typical daytime fatigue due to OSA may keep you from exercising.

Link Between Your Sleep Cycle and Hunger

Exactly how sleep deprivation affects your ability to control weight has much to do with your hormones. Three significant hormonal responses that are discussed concerning weight gain and that are considered to be closely related to sleep are ghrelin, leptin, and insulin.


Two critical hormones involved are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is a “go” hormone. It tells you to eat. Research has discovered that when we are sleep-deprived, our bodies produce more ghrelin.


It is a “stop” hormone. It informs us that you are full and that you can stop eating. When you are sleep-deprived, you make less leptin.

Therefore, more ghrelin and less leptin produce weight gain. This can eventually result in sleep apnea, which steals away even more sleep, which can cause even more weight gain.


It is another hormone which is affected by sleep disorders, as suggested by some studies. When we don’t sleep properly, our cells stop or block insulin’s efforts to carry glucose into our cells. You can consider it as if lack of sleep is leading us to diabetes.

In addition to the above fact, insulin is known to promote the release of leptin, the “stop eating” hormone, so when we’re sleep deprived, and our cells are rejecting insulin, our bodies make less leptin, which means more eating, and more weight gain.

The Bottom Line

The vicious poor diet/poor sleep cycle, in short, can be transformed into the perfect circle: Eat well to sleep well, to eat and sleep well again. A good night’s sleep is likely also dependent on a healthy diet, as reported by newly published research. When we eat healthy food during the day, we get better sleep at night. The converse is also true: poor diets generates poor sleep. Proper diet, along with regular exercise, has been shown to fight epidemic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, and also appears to promote good sleep patterns to assist in the fight.