Tag Archives: sleep apnea

Sleep Deprivations Connection to Weight Gain, Increased Health Risk and Death


How many of you have a tendency to stay up late and then eat too much before bed time? Do you wake up with little energy and then eat too much throughout the day?  Believe it or not there is a connection between long term sleepless nights, increased weight gain, disease and death.

Many are also unaware how sleep deprivation changes habits and behaviors and mood long term and how that increases other health risks. Most importantly, “the lack of sleep also changes the balance of hormones in your body, especially ghrelin and leptin. [Learn more about sleep deprivation and sleep products by clicking on the image]

Ghrelin spurs you to eat, and leptin tells you when to stop. When you are sleep-deprived, your body creates more ghrelin and less leptin; this leads to more eating, additional calories, and extra weight gain” (Brooks 2014).

“In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin” (Bouchez 2014). [Learn more about Lepin weight loss products Now. Click on the Image]

When you don’t sleep “for whatever reason” your body releases more ghrelin and continues to burn energy and you feel hungry. Instead of sleeping, you’re prone to eat more after diner and snack late into the evening and throughout the next day. During evening hours, especially after 8pm… This is the worse time to eat as the body’s metabolism is at its lowest metabolic burn rate.

Your weight gain nemesis may also be directly related to any number of health, or environmental, or relational conditions and/or situations causing sleepless nights. As such, if not addressed and resolved will lead to a continuance of unhealthy behavioral habits that increase health risk and continued sleepless nights.

People with insomnia often wake repeatedly during the night and don’t feel rested in the morning. Insomnia can cause or worsen fatigue, already a symptom of depression. “Sleep is clearly linked with mental health and insomnia is considered a hallmark of depression” (Tracey 2014). [Click on image for insomnia information]

“For years researchers have known that adults who sleep less than five or six hours a night are at higher risk of being overweight. Among children, sleeping less than 10 hours a night is associated with weight gain. Now a fascinating new study suggests that the link may be even more insidious than previously thought. Losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain” (Parker-Pope 2013).

“Perhaps the largest study to track the effects of sleep habits on weight gain over a period of time was presented by the American Thoracic Society International Conference in 2006. The study that included nearly 70,000 middle aged women specifically pointed out those women who sleep 5 hours or less per night generally weigh more than women who sleep 7 hours per night” (Menopot 2014).

Within fat cells there is a physiological response to metabolic hormonal imbalances caused by sleepless nights. In other words, studies show us the longer one goes without sleep causes fat cells to malfunction by preventing its release of stored energy. And for those that experience chronic sleep deprivation – the risk of diabetes, circulatory and cardio health risk increases.

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To investigate, Matthew Brady at the University of Chicago and his colleagues tested fat cells taken from the bellies of seven adults after four nights of sleeping up to 8 and a half hours, and then again after four nights on a measly 4 and a half hours. The team found that after sleep deprivation fat cells from the same person were on average 30 per cent less responsive to insulin “a hormone that makes muscle, liver and fat cells take up glucose after a meal.”

“High blood glucose levels are linked to diabetes. Fat cells also normally release the appetite-regulating hormone leptin [tells you when to stop eating]. Brady suggests that if sleep-deprived cells are generally malfunctioning, this mechanism may also be disrupted, affecting weight gain” (Hamzelou 2012). [Click on the Buda to find diabetic treatment information and products]

Outside of environmental stressors and bad habits, there is a serious medical condition known as sleep apnea that causes many to lose sleep because of excessive snoring. Sleep apnea occurs during sleep and when muscle tissue is relaxed at the back of the throat in a way that partially occludes a clear airway. In some cases, as more weighted tissue is involved around the throat area, the structural airway integrity buckles and partially blocks the air passage. This buckling/blockage causes excessive snoring, lessens oxygen to the brain and is a cause of sleep deprivation and weight gain.

Those with sleep apnea repeatedly wake up because of snoring and occluded airway and May, or may not be consciously be aware of the problem. But in almost all cases, those with untreated sleep apnea rarely feel rested and are tired and hungrier throughout the day.

Sleep apnea is serious business because respiratory failure and other health risk have led to death. If you or spouse have a serious snoring problem, or stop breathing intermittently during sleep, or can’t sleep and have a difficult time with weight loss and are now obese, see a physician for referral to a sleep study test.

There is also a neurological condition that is not a mechanical breach or related to an overweight condition. Instead sleep apnea can occur due to the CNS (Central Nervous System) signaling the brain to stop breathing intermittently during sleep. This type of breathing interruption is less understood but can be treated in the same way as a mechanical blockage using a CPAP (Positive Airway Pressure) or dental device that keeps the airway open. Both mechanical and neurological medical conditions can also occur simultaneously. In any event, both can be medically treated.

Sleep Study Tests Will Show the Following Results: While asleep, those with sleep apnea unknowingly experience episodes where they stop breathing. This can occur 5-50 times per hour and up to 300 times during regular sleep. If the non-breathing episodes only last seconds or less, this does not appear to have a significant health risk to the body.  However, if one averages 30 non-breathing episodes per hour on average, and breathing stops for up to 10-second intervals between breaths, health risk increases and damage to the brain and heart may occur.

When we snore and wake up repeatedly, or get little sleep for whatever reason we don’t reap the benefit of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. While under REM our skeletal muscles are deeply relaxed and we dream and our food intake throughout the day is better regulated because our hormones and metabolism is refreshed, energized and balanced optimally.

It is especially important if you suffer from stress, anxiety, obesity, or respiratory disorder that causes sleepless nights, seek medical treatment. Treatment may include: CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), anti-anxiety, depression and/or behavioral therapy with, or without hormonal or other prescription drug treatment. If overweight you may also be tested for diabetes, heart and circulatory, etc., health problems.

Tests and treatment may include a sleep study test and thereafter – prescribed a CPAP, or other medical treatment to keep an open airway during sleep. [Learn more about sleep apnea and associated CPAP products by clicking on the image.

Regardless of what prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep and sustaining healthy body weight and achieving set fitness goals, it is possible to target the problem of your sleep deprivation and weight gain and reverse the course. Leading to improved health, fitness levels and wellbeing.

Works Cited and Article Resources,

Bouchez, Colette. “The Dream Diet: Losing Weight While You Sleep.” Review. Web log post. WebMD. WebMD, LLC., 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Brooks, Dominique W., MD, MBA. “Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain.” LoveToKnow. LoveToKnow Corp., 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Hamzelou, Jessica. “‘Tired’ Fat Cells Might Trigger Obesity.” NewScientist. Reed Business Information Ltd., 15 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.

Menopot. “Insomnia and Weight Gain.” Insomnia and Weight Gain. Menopot, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Parker-Pope, Tara. “Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Tracy, Natasha. “Depression and Sleep Disorders.” HealthyPlace. HealthyPlace, 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Woodard, Marc T. “Defeat Anxiety and Panic Attacks.” Web log post. MirrorAthlete Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete Inc., 24 Nov. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Woodard, Marc T. “Sleep Apnea an insidious Angel of Death.” Web log post. MirrorAthlete Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete Inc., 23 July 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2014-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Sleep Apnea an Insidious Angel of Death


I definitely won’t fall asleep on this thing.

Updated:  15 April 2014

I first heard of sleep apnea about 10 years back, but never gave it a second thought until 2 years ago when an in-law and now a sibling had been diagnosed and treated for this condition.  I was also told within the last 6 months from a good friend of mine while on a walk a childhood buddy of ours had died in his sleep from this condition.  It is my understanding his early and unnecessary death occurred for lack of following medical treatment protocols.

I refer to this disorder as an insidious angel of death, why?    Because this is a serious health condition and if ignored can kill without warning!  Our childhood friend was around 47 years of age and left his loved ones before his time.  Since this disorder has such a high risk potential for fatality and emotional pain to family and friends, I felt it was high time to write on this topic.

First let’s understand the definition of apnea.  It is the temporary suspension of respiration, or without breathing.  Sleep apnea when diagnosed is commonly referred to as OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), or complex apnea.  OSA is the anatomical obstruction blockage and/or central nervous system problem that causes the airway to become obstructed.  Regardless of sleep apnea cause, it increases the risk of heart failure by way of coronary heart disease for lack of oxygen when breathing is interrupted.  As oxygen levels decrease in the blood, carbon dioxide levels increase.

This condition creates a jumpy nervous system and blood pressure spikes that stresses the heart walls and disturbs heart rhythm.  Over time, this reoccurring condition puts you at risk of a heart attack.  This is not only bad for your heart, but nearly every organ and tissues of the human body creating high risk for many other types of illness and disease.

Okay, let’s break this down a little bit more so we can really understand the mechanics of how obstruction occurs.  As the soft palate at the back of the throat collapses during sleep those that suffer from sleep apnea begin to snore and apparently struggle to breath. The obstructive collapse for instance in the neck area while relaxed and during sleep is not able to keep a clear airway passage.  Obstructive soft tissue problems typically occur at the base of the tongue, tonsils and nasal cavity areas.

There is also sleep apnea caused by the central nervous system where the brain is not registering the lungs to breath with regular consistency.  When diagnosed with sleep apnea where obstruction is not the cause, it is understood the problem stems from the central nervous system.  The central system cause of sleep apnea is “not” well understood by researchers why the brain begins to inconsistently regulate breathing during sleep.

Regardless of whether sleep apnea is caused from an obstructive or neurological problem, lack of oxygen during sleep causes internal disease in the following ways.  When one is awakened abruptly from sleep to catch their breath, adrenaline increases blood pressure which is also believed to contribute to vascular problems.  And with blood pressure surges, one than can also become more at risk for blood clots, stroke, arrhythmias, diabetes hypertension and memory loss.

Sleep apnea may also trigger seizures in the absence of epilepsy, or trigger seizures that were treated well in the past by medications.  In the long run the primary damage caused by this sleep disorder is due to unstable blood pressure regulation and adequate oxygen to the heart and brain.  Sleep apnea has the same risk factors on health as risks associated with heavy smoking.

Sleep Study Tests Show the Following Results:  While asleep, those with sleep apnea unknowingly experience episodes where they stop breathing.  This can occur 5-50 times per hour and up to 300 times during regular sleep.  But if the “non breathing” episodes only last seconds or less, this does not appear to have a significant health risk to the body.  But if one is sleeping and averages 30 “non breathing” episodes per hourly average where breathing stops up to 10 second intervals minimum between breaths, this is where serious health risk increases and incremental/accumulative damage to the heart occurs.  While loved one(s) and friends assume you simply have a bad, loud obnoxious snore, this could in fact be an indicator of something far worse than irritating those around you.  And also be aware, just because you snore does not mean you have sleep apnea.  Only a sleep study test can prove this for sure.

High Risk Indicators:  Those that are obese tend to have a lot of fatty tissue and low muscle tone around neck area.  Obesity creates the anatomical characteristics of obstruction potential for impingement, pressing down, or blockage of the airway while lying down.  Also males between 40-70 years of age and diagnosed with sleep apnea have a 68% higher risk of “coronary heart disease” than those without it.  And men that have been diagnosed with OSA have a 58 percent greater risk of “cardiac failure” than those without.  Women don’t appear to suffer from this condition, but science agrees more studies on women are recommended.   The common times of sudden death appear to occur mostly between the hours of midnight to 6am.

What to look for:  Listen for loud snoring and/or those that fall into the obese category. If both breathing and snoring stops while the chest and body attempt to breath, this is classic of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.  When breathing starts you’ll note a gasp for air and snoring begins again.

Other Recommendations and Medical Treatment

  1. Diagnostic tests: Oximetry or polysomnography – If you have insomnia consider asking your doctor to be referred to a Level 3 sleep study where your breathing, oxygen flow, heart rate and chest/abdomen expansion are monitored overnight.
  2.  CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) This is mask worn while sleeping that injects air into the respiratory system without interruption of obstructing air flow to the body.  How it works: The device blows positive pressure into the nose to keep the airway from collapsing.
  3. Sleep at 30 degree elevated level helps to keep gravity pulling down on weakened tissues around the neck area from obstructing airway.
  4. Decrease weight, stop smoking, chewing tobacco.
  5. If you are diabetic your odds of OSA increase 3-fold. Seek treatment and follow your doctor’s advice for diabetes.
  6. Avoid alcohol, muscle relaxants, chronic opiate use.  The presence of sleep apnea without an obstructive component appears to be a common symptom for those that abuse opiates.
  7. For those with OSA and are candidates for surgery to alter the airway may be your solution to getting away from CPAP dependency.  I.e., Throat, base of tongue and facial skeleton surgery can correct the anatomical obstruction cause.
  8. Check on medications and other treatment for complex sleep apnea that include unknown central nervous system cause, e.g., Acetazolamide to lower blood pressure and encourage respiration.


  1. http://www.medindia.net/news/Risk-of-Heart-Disease-Increases-With-Obstructive-Sleep-Apnea-71310-1.htm
  2. http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Treating+sleep+deprivation+begins+with+proper+diagnosis/3295105/story.html
  3.   http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/news/20050323/sleep-apnea-makes-wee-hours-sudden-death-time
  4.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_apnea

 Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, MirrorAthlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.