Snoring leads to weight gain which leads to binge eating which leads to snoring
Can snoring make you fat? If the snorer is you or lying next to you, chances are it might. Studies have shown that snoring causes hormonal changes that makes you more hungry, especially for sugary, fatty, ‘comfort’ foods.
“The darker side to snoring is obstructive sleep apnea, which snoring is often an indicator of,” advised Dr. Daniel Smith, co-director of the Focus Center of Sleep Apnea and Snoring. “Approximately 100 to 200 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), causing long-term health risks, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and impotency,” added Smith. The Focus Center advises that OSA is generally “under diagnosed.”
“Patients with sleep apnea are predisposed to significant weight gain in the year before sleep apnea is diagnosed,” said Wahid Rashidzada, MD a sleep neurologist and medical expert on JustAnswer.com. “Data has shown that a 10% increase in body weight in subjects who initially had mild sleep apnea lead to a six-fold increase risk for developing moderate-to-severe sleep apnea,” he said.
But from the point of view of an actual sufferer of sleep apnea, a healthy night’s sleep is an elusive gift. “In my experience, the weight comes on first, and while the experts say that lack of proper sleep is a factor, I believe that it is way down the list of why people are gaining weight,” wrote Julius Nagy in an e-mail.
Mr. Nagy was diagnosed with sleep apnea 12 years ago and sleeps with a CPAP machine, an assisted device that forces air to alleviate the problem. “Improper sleep will help contribute to weight increase, but it contributes more to depression, which can lead to excessive “comfort” eating,” he said. Mr. Nagy indicated that he has been “obese” for longer than 12 years and is “currently working on getting healthier.”
“It is true that sleep-deprived subjects not only displayed increased hunger but also more often selected high carbohydrate candies, ice cream, pasta, and bread when sleep deprived,” agreed Rashidzada. “Sleep-deprived individuals were less able to control their dietary urges,” he said.
And the cause are two hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells the brain you’re full and ghrelin, coming from the stomach, does the opposite, telling the brain you’re hungry. “Studies suggest that an imbalance of brain chemicals and hormones, including cortisol, ghrelin, leptin and serotonin, can increase cravings and make certain foods difficult to resist,” this, according to a recent New York Times article.
“A few weeks of not sleeping well, your leptin levels can decrease by as much as 15%,” advises Dr. Avi Ishaaya, a leading sleep disorder specialist in California. “Instead of registering that you are no longer hungry, your brain receives the message, ‘Hey! I am hungry. I need to eat.’”
Murray Grossan, MD and author of Free Yourself from Sinus and Allergy Problems-Permanently indicated via email that it is the fatigue associated with lack of sleep that can cause next day overeating. Dr. Ishaaya offers a short “sleep well” quiz on his website.
Considering that all noisy sleepers don’t suffer from sleep apnea, and all sleep apnea suffers aren’t necessarily fat, the quality of our sleep, by and large, does affect our hormones and ultimately our moods. “Poor sleep quality causes hormonal changes that makes you more hungry, especially for sugary, fatty, ‘comfort’ foods,” said Steven Park, MD and author of Sleep, Interrupted: A Physician Reveals The #1 Reason Why So Many Of Us Are Sick And Tired.
Dr. Park also presented me with a shockingly vivid warning for late night eaters, “juices lingering in your stomach gets suctioned up into the throat every time you stop breathing, causing inflammation and swelling, narrowing the throat even further, causing more obstruction, and the vicious cycle continues.”
Weight gain induced snoring, caused by late night eating doesn’t end in our guts, either, “These stomach juices (acid, bile, digestive enzymes, and bacteria) can also go into the ear and nose and lungs, causing more inflammation and irritation. This predisposes bronchitis, sinusitis and ear infections. Most people with this condition complain of chronic throat clearing, post-nasal drip, cough, or hoarseness,” added Park.
If you think you snore (or was told that you do), you should consult a doctor. Although you may not have sleep apnea, snoring may be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. This could explain any low energy levels that may be preventing you from exercising or working out.