Being overweight or obese is strongly linked to airway obstruction, leading to numerous other health disorders. People that are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway and block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep. How do you know if this is an issue for you? You can measure your neck circumference. For men, it should be less than 16 inches and for women less than 15 inches.
While we recommend a well-rounded treatment plan as a solution to Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it’s essential to focus on lifestyle changes that help with weight loss. Losing weight can have a major impact on the airway and therefore oxygen consumption while sleeping.
A weight loss plan should be customized for each individual depending on their lifestyle and health goals, however here are a few basic tips:
- Drink Water – You should drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 75 ounces of water daily. Quite often we mistake thirst for hunger. When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes to see if you’re actually hungry.
- Practice Time-Restricted Feeding – Keep your feeding time window to 12 hours or less each daily. For example, if you finish dinner at 7:30PM, don’t eat breakfast until after 7:30AM the next day. Your body needs at least 12 hours each day to rest and rejuvenate so it shouldn’t be digesting food during this time. This simple trick can have a positive effect on weight loss.
- Move More – It’s not just about intense exercise sessions at the gym every day, but simply moving more throughout the day. If you sit at a desk most of the day, set an alarm on your phone for every 30 minutes as a reminder to get up and walk around for 2-3 minutes. Other tips include taking the stairs and parking your car far away when possible.
- Work With a Nutrition Practitioner – As we mentioned previously, it’s best to have a personalized nutrition plan. A short-term ketogenic diet is often helpful for boosting initial weight loss, however this should be done under supervision. Please check out ReneeBelz.com to work with our Certified Nutritional Consultant.
Since being overweight can cause poor sleep and poor sleep can cause weight gain, this tends to be a vicious cycle. One of biggest reasons why poor sleep can cause weight gain has to do with the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is responsible for turning off the hunger signal, while ghrelin is responsible for making you feel hungry. To help maintain weight, you need these hormones to work optimally, however when you don’t sleep well these hormones get switched. Ghrelin rapidly increases causing more hunger, while leptin practically shuts off never signaling your brain that meal time is over. This may be why research finds sleep can have a greater impact on weight loss than exercise. So next time you think about missing out on a little bit of sleep to squeeze that early morning workout in, you may want to think again.
Therefore, it’s best to focus on a lifestyle and nutrition plan while simultaneously working with your Dentist trained in Dental Sleep Medicine.