Debra, a 48 year old registered nurse had never struggled with her weight as a child. “I think it started when I was in nursing school and continued when I began working nights.” Debra remembers eating to stay awake, eating to go to sleep and being tired. “I was tired when I woke up. I was tired all day long!” After work, Deb explains she had no energy to do any of the things she wanted to do or enjoyed. “It was terrible,” said Deb, “I just wanted the old Deb back. The one who had energy and enjoyed life.”
Deb’s struggles continued for more than twenty years until recently when she attended a free public seminar discussing the dangers of untreated sleep apnea and a new treatment alternative, oral appliance therapy. “I had been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and did try the CPAP, but I just couldn’t make myself use it,” states Deb, so she was very interested to learn that there was an alternative. Deb received her oral appliance on August 21st of this year and cannot believe the difference it has made in her life. “It’s like I had been asleep for twenty eight years and suddenly woke up. I have energy! I’m not tired all of the time! I have my life back.” Oral appliances are worn during sleep to prevent airflow from being blocked at the back of the throat.
Deb lost 43 pounds
One of the most visible side effects of finally getting a proper night’s sleep has been an incredible weight loss. “So far, I have lost 43 pounds and I’m continuing to lose more!” Deb has had a gym membership for about five years, but never had any energy to go work out. “Now I go to the gym, run errands, visit my parents and realize that all of a sudden it’s ten o’clock and time to go to bed.”
When asked if she feels that the oral appliance was a catalyst for her weight loss, Deb will tell you “Absolutely! It gave me the spark of energy I needed to change my behaviors and start on a positive path. Now after I’ve used the elliptical machine at the gym, I don’t want to eat something that will take away all of the hard work that I’ve just done. Treating my sleep apnea has had a snow ball effect to make positive changes in my life.”
It makes sense that someone with no energy would have a hard time losing weight. If their lack of energy is due to an untreated sleep disorder, there may be more working against them than fatigue. Research suggests that even a modest amount of sleep deprivation can increase appetite by altering body chemistry.
How Hormones Affect Your Sleep
Can you remember a time when you slept really poorly and the next day you were hungry all day no matter what you ate? You were likely under the influence of leptin and ghrelin.
Experts agree that when you don’t get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food. The two acting together can set the stage for unwanted weight gain. If a person has struggled with unwanted weight gain or the inability to lose weight, an untreated sleep disorder may be to blame and should be discussed with your healthcare professional.
Deb is overwhelmed by how great she feels. She only wishes she had discovered this treatment option years ago.
Signs You May have Sleep Apnea
- Loud, Heavy Snoring
- Periods of Not Breathing During Sleep
- High Blood Pressure
- Easily Frustrated/ Irritable/ Depression
- Drowsy Driving
- Morning Headaches
- Heart Disease
- Weight Gain
- Inability to Lose Weight
- Acid Reflux
- Not Feeling Rested after Full Night’s Sleep