A new study reveals that people who get shorter sleep tend to have a wider waistline, even though they eat just as healthy as those who get more sleep. This reminds us of the complex interaction of weight, diet, and sleep. It also remind us that sleep apnea isn’t just caused by obesity, it can cause obesity. In light of this, attempts to stop sleep apnea by losing weight may be misguided.

Mouth breathing and sleep apnea

Short Sleep May Be to Blame for Obesity

For this study, researchers selected 1615 adults who reported sleep patterns and food intake. Researchers also recorded vital statistics such as height, weight, waist circumference and more. Blood samples were taken and analyzed.

Researchers found that people who got less sleep had a waistline that was about an inch larger than those who got more sleep. People who got short sleep also had lower levels of HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol can have a protective effect and reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and related complications.

However, in this study, researchers found that these changes couldn’t be linked to diet. People ate roughly the same diet whether they were getting adequate sleep or short sleep. This in itself is an interesting finding as some studies have suggested that poor sleep can lead a person to make poor dietary choices.

Instead, this study suggests that the largest part of the effect is from something other than dietary choices. This is not inconsistent with other research. Other studies have shown that diet is only one factor that links poor sleep with obesity. In addition to diet, sleep can affect the way the body metabolizes energy. It can make people store more fat and burn less energy. This can lead to weight gain even with a healthy diet or make it harder to lose weight.

Are You Getting as Much Sleep as You Think?

This study provides important insight for people with sleep apnea. Although you might think you’re spending enough time in your bed at night, you might not be getting enough sleep. Instead of measuring the hours you spend in bed, you need to be on the lookout for symptoms of poor sleep. If you are waking up feeling unrested, have morning headaches, or find you are sleepy during the day, it’s likely that sleep apnea is interfering with your sleep. This may be contributing to weight gain.

If this is the case, you need to be tested for sleep apnea. As many as 80% of people with sleep apnea are currently undiagnosed, and until you get a positive diagnosis, we cannot proceed with treatment.

If you do have sleep apnea, we offer a comfortable, convenient treatment option that can help you control symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness and morning headaches. It can also improve some of the health-related effects of sleep apnea. It may also make it easier to lose weight.

If you want to learn more about how sleep apnea could be affecting your health and weight, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.