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Do you struggle with your weight and find it difficult to adhere to a diet? Do you tend to yo-yo on the scale and struggle to find a sustainable solution? Have you tried every fad diet in the book and still continue to gain weight and snore at night? CPAP can help!

It is a known fact that obesity significantly increases a person’s risk of developing OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). Excess weight on the neck and chest can constrict and/or obstruct airways, making breathing while asleep difficult and in turn causing snoring and classic OSA. OSA patients are commonly prescribed CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) via a machine and mask interface to maintain patent airways. Patients suffering from OSA who do not use or are noncompliant with CPAP often find weight gain and obesity to be an ongoing and worsening issue. This is due to the fact that as patients suffer OSA and lose sleep more and more each night, they have less energy with each passing day to exercise and tend to live more sedentary lifestyles while craving fat-laden convenience foods.

A study conducted by Ulukavak and colleagues published in Respiration journal have shown significant relationships between OSA and the hunger-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone which assists in controlling body composition, energy homeostasis and feeding behaviour in humans. Leptin basically tells the brain that the body does not need to eat (hunger-suppressing).Ghrelin, on the other hand, which also influences appetite and energy homeostasis, is a hormone that tells the brain you are hungry and need to eat (hunger-inducing). The study by Ulukavak and colleagues investigated serum leptin and ghrelin levels in 52 patients (30 obese patients with moderate-severe untreated OSA and 22 control subjects not suffering from OSA) and showed that the OSA patients had below-normal levels of leptin, causing them to eat more frequently and in larger amounts than control patients. They also had above-normal levels of ghrelin, the hunger-inducing hormone.

A study conducted by Harcshand colleagues which was published in the European Respiratory Journal offers a ray of hope for patients suffering from obesity in conjunction with obstructive sleep apnea. This study measured serum leptin and ghrelin levels in patients with OSA before and during CPAP treatment and compared them with control patients of similar weights but not suffering from OSA. Fasting leptin and ghrelin levels were measured before CPAP initiation, at day two of CPAP treatment, and leptin levels were again measured after two months of CPAP treatment. Baseline ghrelin levels were much higher in OSA patients compared to control patients. However, after only two days of CPAP treatment, ghrelin levels decreased to levels only slightly higher than those of control subjects. Leptin levels showed no significant change by day two of treatment in the OSA group but were higher than those of the control group at baseline. Leptin levels did, however, decrease significantly in the OSA patient group after two months of good compliance to CPAP therapy. This study shows that CPAP helps regulate the production of these appetite-regulating hormones and can help OSA patients better manage their weight and appetite.

Researchers at the world-famous Mayo Clinic have also been striving to connect the dots between OSA and obesity. They found that it only takes as little as eight days of interrupted sleep or even slight sleep deprivation (both classically associated with untreated OSA patients and unfortunately their partners who cannot sleep through the snoring) to cause an increase in ghrelin, the hormone that tells the brain you need to eat. This research showed that people who are even slightly sleepy during the day from sleeping poorly the night(s) before tend to increase their caloric intake by, on average, 500 calories per day. Consuming this many calories three to four days each week will cause you to gain 2-3 pounds per month, or 24-36 pounds per year, which can obviously add up quickly.

The good news is that there is a way to avoid all of this – CPAP! Experts continue to stress that regular CPAP use and compliance is not only vital in treating OSA, but also regulates appetite-related hormones. It is also important to note that CPAP can not only help put a halt to your weight gain, but also give you that boost of day time energy you need after a good night’s sleep to exercise during the day, further aiding in your weight loss.

Dream Sleep Respiratory is here to help! Ask your Doctor to refer you to us for your FREE sleep study to see if you are suffering from OSA and require CPAP. We offer the best CPAP machines and latest technology on the market, alongside the most comfortable masks and interfaces so you can drift into dream land without a second thought. Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your CPAP-using sweetie? Why not come in and grab some supplies or a new mask? Contact us today if you have any questions!