The catch-22 of sleep disorders and weight problems

Have you recently gained a few pounds or more? Have you tried losing weight but find that no matter how dedicated you are to the idea of exercising, you always feel too tired to start? Does it seem that you feel hungry all the time? Would it surprise you to learn that recent studies show there may be a link between sleep disorders and weight problems?

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What is a sleep disorder and how do you know if you have one?

A sleep disorder is a condition that interrupts your sleep. A common one, sleep apnea often leads to severe and chronic fatigue. Sufferers of sleep apnea actually stop breathing several times per hour. This interruption of breathing lasts until your brain pushes the panic button and sends an emergent signal to your body to begin breathing again.

Because it can happen several times during each hour you are sleeping, your body is unable to experience the deep, healthy sleep it requires. The only way to know for sure if you suffer from this disorder, however, is to undergo a sleep test.

How is sleep apnea related to weight gain?

Extra weight, even a few pounds, can increase the size of your neck. When you relax to sleep, this additional weight may press down and partially block your airway. While this might only be enough to cause you to snore, it can also result in the onset of obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea can also be due to a dental problem, such as a misaligned bite. Whatever is causing your sleep disorder, the resulting sleep deprivation causes your body to produce more ghrelin, a natural hormone that lets your body know when it is hungry. Simultaneously, chronic fatigue also results in a decreased production of leptin, the body’s hormone that signals when it is fully sated.

On the flip-side, chronic fatigue can lead to a craving for high-energy foods and decrease your appetite for exercise.

What treatments are available for sleep apnea?

If you have been diagnosed with a sleep apnea, consider contacting Chicago dentist Dr. Ira Shapira to schedule a consultation and clinical examination. If your sleep disorder is due to an underlying dental issue, Dr. Shapira will determine whether a custom-fitted oral appliance can help get you back to a healthy weight and good night’s sleep.

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