Losing weight for a better night's sleep

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Significant weight loss can improve the sleep patterns of severely obese people, leading to less daytime sleepiness and better quality of life, a study by the Monash University Centre of Obesity Research and Education has found.

Associate Professor John Dixon, Professor Paul O'Brien and Dr Linda Schachter found that following laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), obese people experienced better night-time breathing habits, improved sleep and sleep quality, as well as fewer symptoms of depression and improved body image.

The study has been published online in the International Journal of Obesity.

Up to 48 per cent of obese men and 38 per cent of obese women suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (a condition in which the throat closes during sleep, restricting the intake of air and disrupting sleep) -- a 10-fold increase on adults overall. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea also have a much higher prevalence of "metabolic syndrome" - a condition that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Associate Professor Dixon said that, following significant weight-loss, patients spent a higher percentage of sleeping hours in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and in the deeper stages of sleep.

"Ultimately it is the improvement in health and quality of life that our patients seek," he said.

"Our study shows that weight loss through LAGB surgery provided major improvement in a broad range of obesity-related problems including obstructive sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness."

Currently, continuous positive airways pressure is the primary and standard therapy for obstructive sleep apnea, however many patients say this kind of therapy is difficult to tolerate on an ongoing basis.

Dr Dixon said although further evaluation was needed, significant weight loss appeared to provide a more logical and definitive therapy for severely obese people suffering obstructive sleep apnea.

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