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Why Does Obesity Disrupt Breathing During Sleep?

If you spend most of your day feeling drowsy, you might be surprised to learn that you stop breathing a few times per night while you sleep.

Obesity is the most common cause of disrupted sleep.

What is disrupted breathing?

Sleep-disordered breathing is a condition which means your body takes in a reduced level of oxygen as you sleep. Our bodies are designed to keep running while we slumber, but in some cases, sleepers simply stop breathing or stop for short bursts throughout the night.

This causes hypoventilation which means the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood is increased. Obesity-specific sleep-disordered breathing is known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome or Pickwickian syndrome.

Why obesity disrupts sleep

Doctors have found that people with larger BMIs often have a greater amount of fat stored in their nasal cavity, which is the passage between your nose, mouth, and lungs that allows you to breathe.

A normal airway allows oxygen to flow freely, but in the obese patient’s case, that extra tissue presses down on the throat, leaving less space for air to pass through. It’s important to remember the greater your weight, the higher your chances of experiencing disrupted breathing, snoring and even sleep apnea.

Many obese sleepers breathe through their mouths because they can’t breathe through their nose probably. Mouth breathing can compound snoring issues and present a host of other health issues such as bad breath and poor oral hygiene.

Mouth breathers are also often jolted awake so their bodies can take in more oxygen, which is why some obese people take big gasps and suddenly wake up from a deep sleep.

Obesity also increases the likelihood of restless leg syndrome which is characterized by discomfort in the legs at night. The constant movement of the legs to relieve discomfort can keep you awake and disrupt your sleep.

The consequences of sleep-disordered breathing

Sleep-disordered breathing makes people feel tired, but often they don’t know why they feel that way. It’s common for patients not to know they suffer from sleep-disordered breathing at all until it disrupts loved ones or becomes a more serious condition.

In the beginning stages, hypoventilation causes people to feel nauseous and drowsy. Hypoventilation that remains untreated can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and increases your risk of stroke.

This condition is linked to car accidents, especially in men whose job requires them to be behind the wheel for most of the day. It can also cause you to gain more weight, as sufferers snack to gain more energy during their working hours.

It can also cause more serious conditions such as diabetes, depression, and other mood problems, which result from a lack of quality sleep. Unresolved sleep disordered breathing can be fatal, which is why you should talk to your doctor if you think you’re not getting enough oxygen when you’re asleep.

Steps toward better health

The number one recommendation for people with obesity-related breathing issues is to lose weight, but that is easier said than done.

As a rule of thumb, doctors always recommend taking healthy steps to create a balanced lifestyle but addressing your sleep disorder immediately is important. There are plenty of devices on the market that can assist you with your breathing issues.

One device that has helped thousands of people rediscover quality sleep is a CPAP machine. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a type of mask worn while you sleep. A flexible hose delivers oxygen to your lungs.

The machine provides your brain with a steady source of oxygen, which is necessary to keep your brain in sleep mode. With this innovative device, you’ll sleep deeper, wake up with fewer headaches, and reduce the possibility of health problems in your future.

While it takes time to adjust to sleeping with a CPAP machine, most users agree there is nothing better than a good night’s sleep.

lady speaking to a doctorTalk to your doctor

If you feel tired during the day or find yourself waking up at night for no reason, then it’s possible you are suffering from sleep-disordered breathing. While taking on a weight loss challenge and using a CPAP machine or other anti-snoring device can seem daunting, but it is the best way forward for a long and healthy life.

Resolving sleep-disordered breathing doesn’t mean just getting more oxygen at night. It has a flow on effect on every aspect of your life, reducing the frequency of your headaches, boosting your mood, and letting you jump out of bed each day with newfound vitality. Talk to your doctor today if you feel like sleep breathing is a problem for you.

About the Author Robert J. Hudson

Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!

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