Why Obesity and Sleep Apnea Often Go Hand in Hand

Are you struggling to sleep through the night, and waking up exhausted and sleepy no matter how many hours you sleep? You may be suffering from sleep apnea. There is often a strong connection between obesity and sleep apnea.

This blog post will explore the link between these two health issues, some ways you can prevent sleep apnea, and what treatment options are available.

The Relationship Between Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Obesity and sleep apnea are two health issues that often go hand in hand. Additional body weight can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea and untreated sleep apnea can also contribute to obesity.

Extra weight, especially around your neck and chest area, puts pressure on your airways. This makes it tougher for air to flow in and out of your lungs during sleep, which causes snoring or even complete pauses in your breathing.

Recent studies have show that weight gain increases the size of the tongue increasing the severity of sleep apnea.

When you have sleep apnea, your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen at night. This triggers a stress response that raises cortisol levels and disrupts metabolism. As a result, people with untreated sleep apnea tend to put on weight more easily than those who don’t have this condition.

Poor quality of sleep caused by frequent waking up at night can also lead to increased fatigue during daytime hours, making people engage in less physical activity. This makes them less likely to prepare healthier meals.

Prevention for Sleep Apnea

Some ways you can prevent sleep apnea include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Maintaining good sleeping habits
  • Keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption and smoking before bedtime

Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea

Depending on the severity of the condition, sleep apnea can be managed by avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime or with lifestyle changes such as loss of weight or sleeping on your side instead of your back.

The treatment option  for mild and moderate sleep apnea include oral appliance therapy. The oral appliances gently reposition the lower jaw to keep the airway open while sleeping.

For severe sleep apnea, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is recommended.  With a CPAP machine, air is continuously pumped into the lungs to ensure you’re always getting oxygen while sleeping.

 With proper management and care, individuals with sleep apnea can improve their quality of life and reduce associated health risks.


It’s clear that there is a strong relationship between obesity and sleep apnea. While not all individuals who are overweight will develop this condition, it’s important to understand the potential risks and take steps to prevent or manage sleep apnea if necessary.

If you’re struggling with sleep apnea and looking for treatment options, the Denver Sleep Apnea Center is here for you.

To schedule a consultation today with Dr. Steven Wilk at our Denver, CO office, call us at (303) 758-4865 or use our online contact form.

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