Obesity and Sleep

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them—we tend to eat when we’re actually sleepy, because we think fatigue is a sign of hunger."

TREATMENT:

Sometimes the best way to treat obesity can be to treat an underlying sleep problem.

"Successful treatment of sleep apnea, usually with nasal continuous positive airway pressure ( CPAP), may reduce sleepiness and then motivate patients to effectively lose weight, which will in turn help the obesity and the sleep apnea," according to Moline and Broch. Most experts say as little as a 10% decrease in weight can lead to significant clinical improvement in the severity of sleep apnea. However, in the more severe cases of apnea, CPAP is a necessary first step to better sleep and feeling motivated to embark on a weight loss program.

So if you are overweight or obese and sleep poorly or feel tired during the day, what should you do?

"First, you should talk to your primary care clinician about a referral to a sleep center so that the nature of the disorder can be fully addressed," suggest Moline and Broch. "Patients should also talk to their bed partners who are likely hearing loud snoring and apnea. Bed partners can be encouraged to accompany the patient tothe sleep center, as appropriate. "After determining the diagnosis, then the sleep issues can be incorporated into a weight loss plan. It is especially important for obese patients who are contemplating gastric surgery to discuss any snoring/apnea problems with their doctors beforehand, since the use of CPAP both before and after the surgery can be very important and in fact, life-saving."

They also suggest a follow-up sleep study after the patient has lost 10% of body weight in order to determine further treatment.

COPING:

Sleep experts say there are a number of things you can do to lose weight and improve your sleep:

  • Make healthy choices for your meals. Avoid fast foods. Eat more fish, fruits and vegetables; avoid foods high in carbohydrates or fats.
  • Start getting consistent exercise , which will improve the quality of your sleep. Most experts, however, say to avoid exercising less than 3 hours