Can Weight Loss Drugs Improve Your Sleep?

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If you follow the news, then you’ve probably heard about the newest weight loss drugs that can let you lose as much as 20% of your body weight.

This has potentially huge implications for your sleep. In fact, the latest news reports that the weight loss and diabetes drugs semaglutide and tirzepatide may help improve the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

This article will explore everything you need to know about semaglutide and sleep.

What is semaglutide?

Semaglutide and drugs like it, such as tirzepatide, act on the brain receptors that are connected to specific hormones.

Originally intended to help manage type 2 diabetes, semaglutide’s role in regulating blood sugar and contributing to weight loss has made it the new “it” drug for significant weight loss.

Raj Dasgupta, MD, chief medical advisor for Sleepopolis, says semaglitude basically acts like a natural hormone in your body called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1).

“It helps your pancreas release insulin when your blood sugar is high, decrease the release of glucagon which tells your liver to make glucose (sugar), slows down how fast your stomach empties after meals, and makes you feel less hungry overall,” he explains.

Does semaglutide affect sleep?

Dasgupta says although semaglutide is not directly linked to better sleep, the weight loss it can bring might help you enjoy better shuteye.

“Shedding pounds can often improve your sleep quality by tackling issues like obstructive sleep apnea and snoring,” he explains.

This can vary from person to person. “Some people might notice better sleep regardless of weight loss due to the changes in their overall health and habits from using semaglutide,” says Dasgupta.

Audrey Wells, MD, a board-certified sleep medicine physician, founder and CEO of Super Sleep MD, says the reasons some report improved sleep while taking semaglutide aren’t clear.

“The mechanism behind this isn’t fully understood,” she says, “but it’s believed to be linked to the drug’s effects on metabolism and weight loss rather than a direct effect on sleep.”

Some people using semaglutide report having insomnia. But it’s important to bear in mind that insomnia is a common condition, Wells says, and changes in food intake can contribute to insomnia.

She says this is why, “when taking highly effective GLP-1 weight loss medications, it’s important to consume sufficient amounts of protein and unprocessed foods.”

She adds that it’s also a healthy practice to stop eating three hours before bedtime.

Semaglutide and sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is most commonly associated with excess weight. Weight loss is the best-known way to treat and possibly even reverse OSA. But maintaining weight loss, as anyone knows who has tried, can be very challenging.

Semaglutide could reduce the severity of sleep apnea in some individuals, but “because there are multiple causes and contributors to OSA, weight loss does not always result in a sleep apnea cure,” notes Wells.

This is why it’s important to continue treatment of sleep apnea while losing weight.

“Premature discontinuation of therapy can lead to weight regain,” Wells says. On the other hand, she says that other treatment options could open up if weight loss does result in reduced OSA severity.

Recent research of the weight loss drug tirzepatide found a significant benefit for OSA. It reduced weight by an average of 18.1% and also reduced OSA sleep disruptions by up to 63%.

FAQs

Why am I not sleeping well on semaglutide?

Some report having insomnia or feeling fatigued while taking semaglutide. Dasgupta recommends evaluating and addressing the many other causes that could contribute to insomnia or fatigue. In general, he says, it’s important to stay hydrated, eat well, and exercise regularly.

“If you’re having trouble sleeping while taking semaglutide, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it to figure out a new treatment plan or rule out underlying sleep disorders,” says Dasgupta.

Does semaglutide cause sleepiness?

Semaglutide can make some people feel tired. The symptom is rare and usually goes away over time. Bear in mind that your tiredness on semaglutide is likely due to the reduced blood sugar and lower intake of calories that result from taking the drug.

How do you overcome fatigue from semaglutide?

“Healthy lifestyle practices are absolutely necessary to be successful with weight loss and weight management,” says Wells. She explains that this includes getting adequate sleep and practicing daytime behaviors that support quality sleep, including regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and stress management.

“First be sure you evaluate and address the many other causes of fatigue first with your healthcare provider,” adds Dasgupta. “If the fatigue becomes chronic, talk to your doctor about it to discuss possible adjustments to your treatment plan.”

Other drugs can impact your sleep too. Next, learn how opioids affect sleep.

This article originally appeared on Saatva and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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