Leptin and ghrelin are among the various hormones that are regulated in sleep. Under normal conditions, leptin hormone tells the body when it's full therefore regulating the appetite. Ghrelin tells the brain when you need to eat. In a properly functioning body, the two hormones are released on and off to regulate normal feelings of hunger. However, in a sleep deprived individual, ghrelin and leptin levels can be altered. Ghrelin levels will go up and leptin levels go down. The result is increased appetite with larger consumption.
A common thought is to try to lose weight to reduce apnea. This may be counter productive if you are unable to regulate your hormones. If you have sleep apnea and are overweight, it may be prudent to utilize a CPAP or a dental sleep appliance to improve sleep quality to regulate the hormones making it more feasible to lose weight and reduce the apnea. There may also be other factors at play including nasal obstruction, tongue-tie, chronic allergies, etc. The weight is part of the puzzle. Our job as airway focused dentists is to try to find all the different pieces and put them together.
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