As a sleep specialist, my patients often ask about the relationship between snoring and weight gain. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has demonstrated that obesity is a risk factor for snoring and sleep apnea and that snoring may cause weight gain or the inability to lose weight.
The relationship between snoring and weight gain is linked to alterations in our metabolism, increased appetite and decreased energy expenditure. In other words, snoring and fatigue from interrupted sleep make us hungrier and less active- and both lead to weight gain. It may also explain why some people have difficulty losing weight despite attempts to modify their diets. Bed partners of snorers may be at risk of weight gain, too. If you are not sleeping because of your partner’s snoring, the resulting fatigue may be the reason you’ve become inactive and packed on weight.
Snoring and weight gain should not be ignored as the combination may cause life-threatening health conditions. Fortunately, both can be treated with simple changes that include: sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol before bed, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Be aware that snoring could also be a sign of sleep apnea, so consult a sleep specialist for the treatment option that is best suited to you.
Excess weight and sleep apnea
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 35% of adults 20 years and older are overweight. In addition, more than two-thirds of obese patients have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which poses a major health risk. We commonly notice weight gain in our abdomen or buttocks, but fat tissue can also deposit in our neck, tongue and airway. It is believed that excess fat deposits in the neck can change the size and shape of our airway and make it smaller.
Furthermore, fat in the neck and throat can displace muscle tissue and result in less muscle tone in the airway. These changes cause the airway to become weaker and more likely to collapse. The end result is snoring and sleep apnea.
Are you at risk for sleep apnea?
One simple method to determine if you are at risk for having sleep apnea is to check your shirt collar size. It has been shown that men with a collar size larger than 17 inches (16 inches for women) are more prone to snoring and sleep apnea.