When you worry about the extra pounds you or someone you love is carrying around, you probably have a variety of reasons for concern. Health issues including high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, heart disease, and even cancer can all be linked to being overweight or obese. And since approximately 160 million Americans are considered to be overweight or obese, if you are struggling with weight issues then you are certainly not alone.
Not only is being overweight unhealthy, but an increase in weight can also be the cause of another serious health problem: snoring related to sleep apnea. Although not all snoring is caused by sleep apnea, it may be particularly related when the cause is carrying around too much weight. Estimates show that around 90 million Americans suffer from some sort of snoring activity while they are sleeping. So if you or your partner are losing sleep related to snoring and being overweight or obese, it may be time to do something about it!
Snoring and Weight Gain
So why is it that carrying around a bit of excess weight can cause a person to snore? Most of it has to do with the fact that excess body fat can be packed in around the throat and neck area, even if a person doesn’t seem to be significantly overweight in other areas. Fatty tissue may not be the only problem as poor muscle tone in the neck and tongue may also contribute to problems with snoring.
The connection happens because the excess pounds packed around the neck can place restrictions on the airways in the neck. When a person has excess weight around their neck and sleeps on their back, gravity can pull the fat pockets down and press into the breathing passages. Restricted breathing happening during sleep may be the cause of loud snoring, wheezing, gasping, choking, and other noises that are often associated with snoring.
People who are obese or overweight will also be carrying around extra weight in places other than the throat and neck as well. Excess weight in the chest and middle section of the body can create problems with asthma or other problems with the respiratory system. Again, the inability to breathe properly during sleep can manifest itself as snoring.
For many people who are overweight, snoring may be a sign of a dangerous sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. During sleep apnea, a person’s airways are blocked to the point that they stop breathing altogether for several seconds at a time. Eventually, the brain goes on high alert and wakes up the body, often with gasping or choking sounds and possibly gasping for air. When this happens (for some people many times throughout the night), the body and brain become deprived of oxygen and significant number of other health problems can be connected to sleep apnea.
Other health concerns related to sleep apnea and snoring may include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart Disease
- Acid Reflux
- Extreme Fatigue and Daytime Sleepiness
- Increase in Car or Work Related Accidents
A serious problem with snoring and weight gain is that the two tend to work in a cycle. When you snore, you probably aren’t getting as much oxygen as you need and end up feeling fatigued and exhausted the next day. This causes you to make poor choices on what you eat as well as missing out on exercise. When these things happen, you’re more likely to gain weight. And when you gain more weight, you’re more likely to snore. The vicious cycle continues.
Can Losing Weight Stop Snoring ?
The pathway to stopping snoring depends entirely on what is causing the snoring in the first place. But since a large majority of Americans snore because of being overweight, it’s probably not a stretch to think that losing weight could minimize the amount of snoring you do on any given night. If your sleep breathing is causing problems and your partner is complaining of snoring, and you are carrying a few extra pounds, then losing weight could help you be healthier in a number of ways.
If you think you might have sleep apnea due to snoring, weight gain, or other symptoms, it is important to see a doctor or sleep specialist right away. In the meantime, taking the opportunity to shed a few pounds through healthy eating and exercise could make all the difference in helping you to stop snoring.
Losing weight can actually be more difficult for people who have sleep apnea as they are not actually getting a good night’s sleep. Some people need help from a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, at least temporarily, in order to lose a bit of weight and get on the right track toward sleep breathing in the proper manner again.
Other Options for Snorers
If your snoring problems are caused by allergies, congestion, deviated septum or other physical blockages, then your doctor can help you find a solution to open up your airways and eliminate snoring. People who smoke, consume alcohol, or take sedatives may also be more likely to be snorers and talking to your doctor about help with stopping these habits could absolutely change your life.
A simple change in sleep position, from the back to the side, could also help to reduce the amount and severity of your snoring issues. Other people find the use of chin straps, mouth guards, and adhesive nose strips are able to do the trick, depending on the cause of snoring in the first place.
Snoring is not pleasant for anyone—the snorer or the people who live with him or her! The good news is that usually a cure is available as soon as the cause is discovered. If you are significantly overweight and are having problems with snoring, then it is quite likely that dropping a few pounds could be the very thing that you need to eliminate your snoring. The added benefit is that losing weight through a healthy lifestyle can help to increase the satisfaction of your life in a number of other ways. And the people you live with will be much happier too!