Many things seem to shrink as we get older. Many products you used to buy have gotten a lot smaller. And, of course, your budget follows along, too. And what happened to your free time? Unfortunately, as some things have been shrinking, most of us have been experiencing one unwelcome expansion: our waistline.

But now a new study is showing that an expanding waistline could actually be the product of shrinking sleep. And, unfortunately, even if you think you’re getting enough sleep, you could be losing much of your rest to sleep apnea.

Expanding Waistline

Short Sleep May Be to Blame for Obesity

In this study, researchers in UK looked at data from 1615 adults who reported their sleep patterns and food intake. Along with these survey results, researchers collected essential vital statistics, including height, weight, and waist circumference. Because the study was also looking at health risks like diabetes and cholesterol, researchers also collected and analyzed blood samples.

The results showed clearly that people who got less sleep experienced negative health impacts. People who got less sleep weighed more. They also had a waistline that was about an inch larger. And they had lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL is considered the “good cholesterol” because higher levels have been shown to reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

It has been thought that part of the reason for this is that people who sleep less might make poor diet choices. However, in this study, the health effects seemed related to sleep levels and not to food choices.

Although this is surprising, it’s not unprecedented. Some studies have shown that poor sleep affects a person’s ability to properly metabolize foods. It can lead to more fat storage and lower metabolic rates. As a result, people who get poor sleep may gain weight or have trouble losing weight even with a healthy diet and exercise.

Are You Getting as Much Sleep as You Think?

This study gives us a clear recommendation for improving your weight and waistline: get more sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as that. Many people think they’re spending plenty of time in bed, but they’re not really getting the rest they need.

Do you find that you’re always waking up tired no matter how long you’ve spent in bed? Do you find yourself wanting to doze off during the day after getting a full night’s sleep (7+ hours)? Are you waking up to urinate more often than in the past?

If these describe you, it’s likely that you have sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you can’t rest because your breathing stops intermittently as you sleep, forcing your body to awaken every few minutes to resume breathing. Perhaps 80% of people with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed in this country. That undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can be robbing your nights of rest, no matter how much time you spend in bed.

If you’re finding that you have all the symptoms of sleep deprivation even while you’re getting good sleep, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. And if you’re looking for a comfortable, convenient sleep apnea treatment in Wilmington, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.