Chicken vs. Egg: Obesity or Sleep Disorder?

According to the American Obesity Association, nearly 200 million Americans have a weight problem. 60 million of those people are considered obese and 9 million are morbidly obese. Over 70 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Those are staggering numbers and they increase each year. The question is, which causes which?

Historically, obesity has been indicated as a major risk factor for sleep-disordered breathing issues. Obese individuals suffer from disorders like sleep apnea at a much higher rate than their counterparts of healthy weight. One of the top 3 recommendations that doctors make is weight reduction to help lessen the severity of the disorder. Many people turn to bariatric surgery which commonly requires a sleep study beforehand to test for sleep apnea. Serious pulmonary complications may occur due to sleep apnea during anesthesia and post-operative pain management.

New studies indicate that there may be a link between the release of the hormones in the body that regulate appetite or feelings of hunger and sleep disorders as well. Essentially, these new studies tell us that the disorder itself can be a contributor to obesity, as well as obesity being a contributor to the disorders. It can become a vicious cycle if left undiagnosed and untreated. Aside from the obvious health complications of heart disease and diabetes, it now seems that not only can sleep apnea be linked to obesity, but general sleep deficit is to blame as well.

Sleep Deficit and Weight Issues

The scenario is common. You overbook your schedule and have to cut into your sleep schedule to fulfill your daily life obligations. Even though you know that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep to function properly, you only allow yourself 6 or less hours. Lately, you notice that you are putting on some weight and have a huge appetite. The culprit may not be solely your level of self-control, it may be your lack of sleep. Insomnia and other disorders like restless legs syndrome affect sleep duration as well. Several recent studies showed a distinct correlation to an imbalance of hormones controlling appetite/hunger when subjects are deprived of adequate sleep. Subjects experienced a decrease of leptin levels, the hormones that “turn off” your appetite and an increase of ghrelin levels, the hormone controlling “hunger.” Even as little as 1 hour less sleep per night can trigger this imbalanced reaction in the bloodstream.

A sleep study is the best way to diagnose most sleep disorders. The Center for Sleep Medicine at Raritan Bay Medical Center offers you a hospital-based testing facility with a difference. Our center was designed with your comfort and reduced stress levels in mind. Private patient bedrooms will remind you of your favorite hotel. Thoroughly trained, professional sleep technologists perform each non-invasive study and our patient-to technologist ratios remain at 2:1. This allows you to receive the kind of attention that you deserve during your study. Most studies are performed overnight and usually allow you to go about your daily routine the next morning.

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