sleep apnea

  1. Weight loss can ease apnea

    Sleep is supposed to be a time to rest, refresh and recharge -- not to fight for your life.

    But that's exactly what you're doing, night after night, if you're waging a silent war against sleep apnea -- and since you can't watch yourself sleep, you might not even realize it.

    Since this breath-robbing condition is often caused or worsened by obesity, it doesn't take a whole lot of "research" to figure out that losing weight can lead to dramatic improvements.

    But researchers will study just about anything -- so we have a new study that confirms that, yes, losing weight can help improve the condition.

    It's actually a follow-up to an older study, in which Swedish researchers put 60 overweight and obese men who were suffering from sleep apnea onto an extreme diet: 500 calories a day, all liquid.

    Don't try that at home -- but in nine weeks, these men lost an average of 40 pounds each. That weight loss led to a 58 percent improvement in their sleep apnea symptoms as well as an average of 21 fewer apnea events during each hour of sleep.

    Naturally, the patients with the most severe conditions who lost the most weight had the biggest improvements.

    But could they keep it up?

    That's where the update comes in: Researchers say that many of the men gained at least some of the weight back... and when they did, the symptoms began to return.

    Overall, the patients regained an average of 14 pounds -- and that caused the improvement rate to slide down to 47 percent from that initial 58 percent, according to the study in BMJ.

    Despite the fact that weight loss is the obvious answer here, too many apnea sufferers would rather mess around with gadgets, gimmicks, and surgery -- and in many cases, none of these will work.

    In others, they'll work only briefly.

    Since apnea patients have a higher risk of heart problems and an early death, don't waste your time with anything other than losing weight.

    And if you're overweight, don't assume you don't have sleep apnea -- many who have the condition don't know it, especially if they sleep alone.

    Get yourself checked out -- or, better still, skip that step and get right to the solution: Lose the weight.

  2. Poor sleep hurts 'down there'

    Incontinence, late-night bathroom visits, erection problems and more are all treated with dangerous drugs -- but new studies show there could be a much more pleasant solution.

    Next time you find yourself reaching for one of those meds, just reach for some soft sheets with a high thread count and a comfy pillow instead. Because new research suggests that those "down there" conditions might begin when sleep starts too late, ends too soon, or is interrupted too often.

    Researchers tracked 1,610 men and 2,535 women for five years, checking their sleep habits as well as problems such as incontinence and late-night toilet visits.

    They found that 8 percent of men and 13 percent of women who slept too little had urinary problems.

    There are four simple changes you can make right now that can help you sleep better and pee less -- and you can read all about them right here.

    That's not the only way poor sleep can hit below the waistline: Sleep apnea can wreak your sex life.

    Researchers examined 870 men with an average age of 47.3 and average BMI of 30.2, which is the beginning of the "obese" category.

    The researchers found that 63 percent of these men suffered from sleep apnea, a disorder that causes people to gasp for air and even stop breathing in the night. After adjusting for age and health, they found that these men had double the risk of erectile dysfunction.

    Since apnea is not always obvious (especially if you live alone) but erection problems are, the researchers say any man having trouble with his sex parts should get screened for apnea... especially if he's overweight.

    That's not a bad idea -- but here's an even better one: Lose the weight, and odds are the apnea will vanish on its own -- and your bedroom blues will too.

  3. Lose weight, gain sleep

    One of the most common causes of poor sleep is apnea – and for many people who suffer from this chronic condition, there's a simple answer.

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