Margaret Mike Sleep & Wake Center

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Understanding the links

One of the major risk factors for sleep apnea is obesity. Over 70% of people in the United States with sleep apnea are also obese.

Excess body weight can affect breathing in numerous ways. Excess fat on the sides of the upper airway passage, for example, causes it to narrow and risk closing during sleep – a risk that is particularly high in people who have a large neck circumference (17” or more) and are overweight.

Excess abdominal fat: a good predictor

Excess visceral body fat, particularly in the abdominal area, is a good predictor of sleep apnea. Two-thirds of snorers found to have sleep apnea are also obese, and the severity of the condition increases with increasing BMI and obesity.

In extreme cases of obesity, decreased mobility can also impact the quality of sleep, as the obese person tries to move or turn in bed – or tries to find a bed that comfortably accommodates them.

Obesity affects sleep in many ways

Other diseases associated with obesity can also affect sleep. As stated earlier, sleep apnea is a major concern for people who are obese. It compromises sleep quality, which can cause trouble falling asleep, frequent bathroom trips or early morning awakenings. Other people think they sleep well but still feel tired no matter how much sleep they get. It can lead to serious cardiovascular disease, even heart attack and diabetes.

By limiting the patient’s mobility and energy levels, obesity tends to “feed itself.” The patient moves less and does less – which leads to further weight gain, which contributes to further worsening of the obstructive sleep apnea and associated sleep disruption. It’s a vicious cycle.

Sleep also affects obesity

Not only does obesity contribute to sleep problems such as apnea, sleep problems also contribute to obesity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a 1999 study at the University of Chicago found that building up sleep debt over just a few days can impair metabolism and disrupt hormone levels such as leptin and ghrelin. When they restricted 11 healthy young adults to four hours’ sleep for six straight nights, researchers found their ability to process glucose had declined – some to the levels of diabetics. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep on a nightly basis increases your chances of weight gain.

Obese people should be evaluated, tested and managed for their sleep-related conditions. Margaret E. Mike, MD, is a triple-boarded sleep specialist with over two decades of experience and an outstanding success record. She can help you.


To learn how sleep doctor Margaret Mike can improve your sleep and your life, call Margaret Mike, MD Sleep & Wake Center at 972–981-7436 for the best rest of your life. For your convenience, you can also use our online form to schedule your appointment with Dr. Mike today! We welcome patients from Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine (Tarrant County), Frisco (Denton County) and Plano (Collin County) in DFW Metroplex, TX.