This is the time of year we are all making our New Year’s resolutions. Weather we want to exercise more, lose weight, stop smoking or get more exercise, this is the time of year we all make our plans. Sadly, it doesn’t take long for the enthusiasm to wane. However, those of you who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have more of an incentive to lose weight than just the cosmetic value of this resolution.

When it comes to OSA, many of the patients are overweight. The body mass index, which is a measure of obesity, is frequently over 30 indicating significant obesity. If you have OSA, your body mass index is related to the number of times you stop breathing at night because of collapsing airways and some of these pauses can last significant periods of time and, of course, affect your daytime symptoms.

Weight loss decreases the collapsibility of the airways. A 10% weight reduction is associated with a 26% decrease in the number of times an obese patient stops breathing at night.

Bariatric surgery can significantly improve obstructive sleep apnea but in about 20% of patients it may have no effect and the weight loss due to a procedure like gastric banding, surprisingly, was no better than conventional weight loss, even though the banded patients may have lost a bit more weight. If you are considering bariatric surgery to help cure your sleep apnea you should discuss this frankly with your sleep physician.