COVID-19 Pandemic Weight Gain and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Wave after wave of the COVID-19 pandemic surges have besieged us all for over a year. Unfortunately, there has been a dearth of consistently successful treatment options. Available therapeutic measures lagged behind the virulence, mutation rate, increasingly high transmissibility and the sheer ferocity of the relentless COVID-19 variants that we have had to contend with for months unending. 

Consequently, many have had to stay indoor and work from home indefinitely. Forced to live less active lives, unable to visit gyms freely, we have had little choice in experiencing the effects of becoming more sedentary. Despite the return to normalcy with vaccination on the rise, there is as yet full reckoning of the impact of an undesirable COVID-induced sedentary lifestyle on the waistline of America’s already 30% obese population. The attendant adverse health consequences of our burgeoning midriff will likely become evident in due course.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting weight gain and sleep apnea?

Yes, so many have been homebound for work and school, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is reported that much weight gain is accompanying the already increasingly sedentary nature of our lives. Waistlines and perhaps necklines have increased while our average body mass index (BMI) has trended up in tandem with the pandemic. 

Results from a University of Missouri poll of its Social Media followers indicates that half of women and a quarter of men polled reported weight gain “due to COVID restrictions”. 54% of respondents indicated that they gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic; the so-called Pandemic Weight Gain. At the same time, many have reported feeling more tired while others complain of various mental health symptoms such as feeling “stressed”, overwhelmed, not sleeping well, being more forgetful and lacking their usual energy levels. Can all of these symptoms be attributed to COVID-19? Perhaps, indirectly so. 

A confluence of some of the aforementioned symptoms yields poor sleep patterns, including sleep deprivation. Inadequate sleep in turn results in poor production of the satiety-regulating hormone, Leptin. Through a vicious cycle, appetite is not well regulated. Increased food intake with decreased physical activity culminates in weight gain. Being overweight or obese heightens the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), presenting as fatigue and sleepiness among other symptoms.

Unexplained fatigue and mental fogginess are hallmarks of untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Fatigue and cognitive impairment are also commonly reported features of COVID-19 infection even for those who recover promptly from its acute effects. One can only imagine the acute additive debilitating impact of both conditions in individuals that may have underlying obstructive sleep apnea, a chronic and often undiagnosed condition, who then suffered the acute and potentially chronic effects of COVID-19. 

When the pandemic subsides, yet to be fully understood, repercussions of concomitant OSA and COVID-19 infection on health-related quality of life are downstream issues likely to be increasingly observed in the medium to long term. For now, while the world continues to grapple with numerous acute complications of COVID-19 disease, it is our goal to help mitigate the deleterious effects of co-existing obstructive sleep apnea on outcomes from COVID-19 infection. 

So, what do I do if I have gained weight and think I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

If you think you may have OSA, you should contact a sleep doctor. Or better yet, download Ognomy—The Sleep Apnea App and schedule an appointment with a board-certified sleep specialist now. Ognomy is essentially a sleep apnea doctor’s practice in the palm of your hand, where we diagnose and treat sleep apnea all from the comfort of your home. If left untreated, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can have devastating effects. 

Fortunately, it has never been easier to receive the sleep medicine care that you deserve. All you have to do is download the app and schedule an immediate appointment and you will be on your way to a better night’s sleep and, most importantly, a better way of life for you and your family. Our goal at Ognomy is to provide a multitude of values!