Snoring And Apnoea Blog

Belly Fat Linked To Sleep Disorders

Posted on Wed, Nov 07, 2012

Numerous studies have found poor quality sleep leads to overeating and physiological changes that lead to heart disease, obesity, depression and Type 2 diabetes.  The ‘tricky’ part is that inadequate sleep actually disrupts the body’s balance and stimulates the appetite ... which leads to greater weight gain and consequently greater risks.  The good news is that the latest studies suggest a two way relationship between sleep disorders and weight gain – meaning improved sleep can help you lose weight, and losing weight can help you sleep better.

Independent scientific studies have consistently founds that sleep disorders are clearly linked to obesity and heavier individuals tend to report more problems getting a good night’s sleep.

Now, in a new study just released by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. It has been reported that weight loss, either through diet or a combination of diet and exercise, can lead to better sleep.

The researchers followed 77 overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes over a 6 month period. At the start and end of the study, the participants completed surveys detailing their sleep problems such as sleep apn0ea, fatigue, insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleep and use of sedatives.   Each participant’s body mass index (BMI) was also recorded so weight changes could be tracked.

The participants were then separated into two groups. The first group went on a weight-loss diet with exercise training and the second group simply stuck to a diet program.

At the end of the six months, both groups experienced a weight loss of about 15 pounds on average and a 15% reduction in belly fat. The researchers also authors found both groups had improved their sleep quality by about 20%.

“The key ingredient for improved sleep quality from our study was a reduction in overall body fat, and, in particular belly fat, which was true no matter the age or gender of the participants or whether the weight loss came from diet alone or diet plus exercise,” said study author Kerry Stewart, a professor of medicine at John Hopkins in a statement.

According to Stewart, belly fat is particularly concerning since it can be metabolically detrimental to health. “Belly fat is almost like a living organ. It produces proteins that cause inflammation,” says Stewart. “When you lose a lot of belly fat in particular, the level of those substances go way down and the inflammatory response is much less than it was before.”

"That means that rates of heart disease may decline as belly fat dissolves. Inflammation aggravates blood vessels, which can increase heart disease risk, and also  interfere more generally with the body’s normal physiological processes. The end result is obesity, and obesity in turn puts added mechanical pressure on the heart and lungs. “If you have a lot of belly fat, the lungs can’t expand as well, so it becomes harder to breathe when you’re sleeping, which is why more people get sleep apnoea,” says Stewart. “When you have sleep apnoea, you wake up more in the middle of the night and that leads to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. So people are feeling miserable because they haven’t had a good nights sleep.”

Shedding extra weight and increasing physical activity triggers a drop in inflammation, lowers insulin resistance and improves metabolism. “This can foster weight loss or prevent further weight gain,” says Stewart.

Whether sleep disorders cause obesity, or obesity causes sleep disorders isn’t clear, although it’s likely  both processes are at work simultaneously. “We are not exactly sure where the problem starts, but we think it is a vicious cycle. Regardless of where it starts, they feed off each other,” says Stewart.

If you are struggling to lose weight, it may be that an underlying sleep disorder like sleep apnoea is part of the problem.  If you are overweight, snoring, waking tired, and feeling sleepy through the day it is almost certain that you have an underlying sleep disordered breathing (SDB) condition.  Treatment of the SDB can help re-start the metabolism and reduce the risks associated with obesity.

If you think you have some sort of sleep disorder, give us a call on 1300 246 637 to talk things over with a friendly sleep therapist ... or request a sleep study online by clicking the button below.


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Tags: apnoea, sleep disorders, weight gain, obesity, belly fat

Snoring & Diabetes Will Bankrupt Australia

Posted on Wed, Dec 29, 2010

According to a report on Channel 7 News, doctors have warned that one in three Australians are facing serious health problems because of snoring.

Experts have been told the risks include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and now, diabetes. The news report said:

"Norm Mareko used to fall asleep during the day, unexpectedly, even behind the wheel, and was recently diagnosed with sleep apnoea.

“I didn’t realise I had this condition until i had a car accident,” he said.

“I stopped breathing 36 times in one hour.”

Sleep apnoea has already been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and now diabetes has been added to the list.

“People have known about snoring and laughed about it for centuries. In fact that is one of the impediments to us getting people to realise this is a serious condition,” said sleep disorders expert Professor Colin Sullivan.

The problem is sleep disorders have been so overlooked and many doctors dismiss snoring as a potentially serious health issue. However one in three Australians could end up needing hospital treatment if they leave their snoring unchecked.

And the experts are concerned about the broader consequences.

Professor Paul Zimmet from the International Diabetes Institute said: “The health bill of Australia will go up and up and up and type 2 diabetes and obesity and sleep disturbances will bankrupt the economy.”

Tags: snoring, diabetes, obesity

Snoring And Apnoea Linked To Obesity

Posted on Thu, Sep 30, 2010

Obesity Is One Result of Apnoea

It’s long been recognised that overweight people are more likely to suffer from a sleep disordered breathing (SDB) condition — but there is a growing body of high quality evidence which suggests that it might actually be the other way around.  That is, instead of it being ‘fat people snore’ … it could actually be ‘snoring people get fat’.

Weight gain linked to snoringWorse still, there is clear evidence that sleep disordered breathing is a significant contributor to hypertension (high blood pressure) and type 2 diabetes.

In one extremely well written paper, by Dr Ralph Pascualy of the Swedish Sleep Medicine Institute, the link between the conditions is explained thus:

 “…several clear relationships have been shown between sleep deprivation and metabolic abnormalities.  Sleep debt strongly affects glucose utilization as well as circadian cycles of thyrotropin, cortisol, growth hormone, and other physiological variables.   

Sleep debt alone is reported to result in impaired glucose effectiveness similar to that found in non-insulin-dependent diabetics.  Severe OSA significantly influences plasma insulin and glycemia and may increase the risk of diabetes independently of obesity. Not all OSA patients are obese; however, insulin resistance is found in both obese and non-obese OSA patients. Blood pressure and fasting insulin correlate closely with both BMI and the severity of OSA. Thus, both the sleep debt and the sympathetic activation that accompany OSA may speed the deterioration of glucose tolerance. Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia lead to further sympathetic activation, thus completing the circle of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and the related metabolic abnormalities.”

The bottom line, as always, is snoring and sleep apnoea are harmful.  They might be common conditions, but that doesn't mean they are 'normal'.  If you snore or suffer from sleep apnoea, or know someone who does ... get treatment.  At the very least, arrange a diagnostic sleep study so you can be sure you know what condition you're dealing with.

Treatment of any underlying sleep disordered breathing condition will have an immediate and positive impact on your health and wellbeing.  And, as an added benefit, your metabolism will start to function properly again - so you'll find it easier to lose weight at the same time as you stop sleep badly.

Tags: apnoea, obesity