We just completed National Men’s Health Awareness month, and it’s time for the “tough guys” to recognize the importance of sleep and the health risks associated with poor sleep habits.
Sleep is a barometer of total body wellness. A lack of sleep can be directly correlated to common health risks and disease states. As a result, it is not uncommon for a lack of sleep, or even insomnia, to affect a man at the same time as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, chronic pain, heart disease, obesity, depression and anxiety, dementia and multiple sclerosis.
Let’s zero in on sleep apnea, a breathing disorder during sleep where individuals can literally stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. Sleep apnea frequently occurs in men who are overweight or obese. Add to this mix that men suffering from low testosterone levels are at higher risk of obesity and sleep apnea. A heads up for men: Testosterone Replacement Therapy can improve changes in sleep patterns or other sleep disturbances, and may be something to check with your doctor.
Other risk factors include being 40 or older, a family history of sleep apnea and having a large neck. Note that an increased neck size and reduced throat diameter are often caused by excess weight, which can combine with anatomy to contribute to apnea. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is the most common and caused by a throat obstruction such as fatty deposits that narrow airways; and Central Sleep Apnea, in which breathing is disrupted due to delayed brain signals.
For men with sleep apnea, weight gain associated with chronic sleep deprivation generally is more than 20 or 30 pounds. Many individuals develop OSA because they are overweight or obese, which can contribute to obstructive breathing. In turn, the disrupted sleep translates into less of restorative deep sleep and, therefore, an increased risk for additional weight gain.
For all you guys, it may be time to pay attention to the quality and quantity of your sleep. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, do not despair, there are many treatment options to help you achieve better sleep and better health.
To learn more about sleep and obesity, visit the National Sleep Foundation or access a wide range of topics at www.sleepfoundation.org.