Sleep is absolutely required to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Having good sleep patterns reduces stress, aids in hormone and neurotransmitter production, increases energy, and improves the quality of life.
Why is Sleep Quality Important?
Lack of sleep has many negative effects, both physically and psychologically. Sleep deprivation is also a common contributing factor in the development of obesity. Even though sleep is a sedentary activity (ie, doesn’t burn calories), it is responsible for improving metabolism, coping with stress, reducing hunger, and increasing activity levels.
Lack of sleep can contribute to an increase in weight and obesity. Obesity can contribute to poor sleep quality as well as:
Bariatric surgery improves sleep quality significantly and can improve sleep-related comorbidities, such things as snoring, sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, and breathing problems. Better quality of sleep means more energy, more focus, better stress management, and greater problem-solving capabilities – all of which improve a person’s health and quality of life.
How Obesity Affects Sleep Quality
There are many factors that affect getting a good night’s sleep, and many different ways for obesity to disrupt the ability to sleep.
For example, those struggling with obesity may have a more difficult time getting comfortable. Many put their body under more stress, and stress is known to decrease sleep quality. Obesity can also lead to concurrent conditions, like heartburn, which is also known to negatively impact sleep quality.
Perhaps the most common way that obesity interferes with sleep is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common condition in those with obesity among adults as well as teenagers. The research shows that the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea is around 40% in obese adolescents (body mass index above 30) and this figure is even greater at higher body mass index.
When you sleep, the muscles in your neck relax. Those with obesity have excess weight in their neck that puts pressure on their neck muscles. This then causes your throat to close, blocking your airways and preventing you from breathing. Symptoms of this condition sometimes go unnoticed, but some signs include:
- Loud snoring.
- A choking sensation that awakens you from sleep.
- Unexplained extreme tiredness during the day.
Many people who have sleep apnea do not know they have it. That is because when your body notices you stopped breathing, it temporarily wakes you up so that the muscles are tense again, allowing you to breathe. Most people then immediately fall back asleep, forget they were ever awake, and the cycle repeats itself.
Some of the treatments that may be suggested for those with sleep-related comorbidities are the use of equipment during sleep that will help them to breathe correctly. These are often called CPAP machines and are placed over the mouth and nose when the individual is sleeping. The machine forces the air through the body so that the individual is forced into a proper breathing pattern when asleep.
Another option for individuals with sleep-related problems is surgery to the nose to relieve the pressure that might be there. Not all individuals are right for surgery and it will need to be carefully considered by a professional.
In the case of sleep-related comorbidities in relation to obesity, weight loss surgery could be the key to better sleep. This is an option only for those that fit the individual criteria for being an excellent candidate for surgery and lifestyle changes.
Improved Sleep Quality After Weight Loss Surgery
When an individual is overweight they body mass can put tremendous pressure on the lungs and esophagus. This can mean major problems with breathing, particularly in a position that is horizontal. Obesity leads to poor sleep quality and losing weight can help improve sleep. Those that undergo bariatric surgery would be most likely to see this benefit because weight loss surgery improves sleep-related comorbidities.
A study in 2012 looked at 45 bariatric surgery patients and found that after weight loss surgery, patients reported getting both more sleep and better quality sleep than before surgery. Another study, which looked specifically at the gastric sleeve, found that 6 months after surgery bariatric surgery patients showed an improvement in sleep quality and a reduction in daytime sleepiness.
Since better sleep is also correlated with increased energy and faster metabolism, this better quality sleep may also contribute to additional weight loss and better health.
Weight Loss Surgery Candidates
Individuals that will fit the criteria will have an obesity weight of being over 100 pounds overweight, have significant sleep-related comorbidities, and they will have tried other methods to lose weight with little or no success. The individual will need to be in good overall health in order to bare the surgery and the recovery. They will need to be willing to make major lifestyle changes in order for the surgery to be effective. This includes approaching food in a new healthier way, exercise according to the guidelines of the physician, and an overall approach to being committed to a better way.