World Sleep Day: Sleep Apnoea & Obesity

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Today marks World Sleep Day

Here at The Hospital Group, we strongly believe that the importance of getting a good night’s sleep is not to be underestimated.

Fully in support of the sleep campaign which aims to raise awareness of different sleep disorders and how they can affect both our overall health and personal productivity, both physical and mental. As a weight loss provider, sleep apnoea is a serious disorder of particular significance to us, having affected many of our customers before undergoing gastric surgery to aid them on their journey to a healthier body mass index [BMI] lowering their risk factors of numerous obesity-related health issues.

In this blog, we explore sleep apnoea and how it is linked to people that are overweight or obese, what are the signs and symptoms to look out for and how it can be treated:

What exactly is sleep apnoea?

According to NHS Choices, sleep apnoea ‘is a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interruptingnormalbreathing.

Sleep apnoea occurs when your breathing is interrupted whilst you are asleep where you could, quite scarily, actually stop breathing several times whilst sleeping which starves the brain and the rest of your body of vital oxygen. This is because muscles and soft tissues in the throat relax to cause a total blockage of the airway for around 10 seconds or more.

What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is often characterised by the following symptoms, which are often picked up on first by a partner or family member, before the person themselves realises that they are suffering from the disorder:

  • Rarely sleeping interrupted through the night
  • Excessively loud snoring
  • Noisy breathing
  • Repeated short periods of interrupted breathing
  • Waking up suddenly and unexpectedly
  • Waking up frequently during the night to go to the toilet
  • Falling asleep in the middle of the day
  • Night sweats

Can sleep apnoea be damaging to your long-term health?

Sleep apnoea can affect both your overall physical health if left untreated – but it can also affect your emotional wellbeing leading to poor personal productivity and constant, excessive tiredness. Here are some of the effects of sleep apnoea:

  • High blood pressure
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Severe headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor performance at work

According to NHS Choices, ‘during an episode of sleep apnoea, the lack of oxygen triggers your brain to pull you out of deep sleep, either to a lighter sleep or to wakefulness – so your airway reopens and you can breathe normally.’

How is sleep apnoea linked to obesity?

It is often caused by being overweight (BMI of 25 or above) or obese (BMI of 30 or above) because excessive fat increases the volume of soft tissues in the neck, which can put strain on the throat muscles. Excess, subcutaneous stomach fat can also lead to breathing difficulties in general.

The good news is that sleep apnoea is absolutely treatable and in fact, many of our weight loss customers find that they no longer suffer with sleep disorders whatsoever as they begin to lose excess weight and reach towards their goal weight. Making lifestyle changes through diet and exercise can reduce your risk factors for many obesity-related health concerns including sleep apnoea.

If you have a high BMI and think that you have sleep apnoea, in the first instance, we would always recommend making an appointment to see your GP to discuss your concerns.

Start your journey towards a happier, healthier you today…

We understand and emphasise with you that weight loss isn’t easy, especially on your own. When you’ve tried following a balanced diet and exercising and it’s just not enough to achieve and maintain long-term results, weight loss surgery could be the start of that new lease of a life you’ve been longing for.

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