Hypothyroidism: Another Look At Sleep Apnea

Hypothyroidism: Another Look at Sleep Apnea

According to Western Medicine, Sleep Apnea is a medical sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while asleep.

The common recommendations to resolve sleep apnea include weight loss, quitting drinking and smoking, avoiding caffeine, avoiding sleeping pills and sedatives and altering your sleep position. Worse case scenario a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is recommended. These recommendations have proved to be effective in managing the problem, yet not so convincing in their ability to “fix” the problem.

Sleep apnea, a common symptom of hypothyroidism and/or low metabolism, can lead to heart issues, insomnia, high blood pressure, moodiness, slow-reflexes and weight gain.


Hypothyroidism and Sleep Apnea

Thyroid hormone, glucose and O2 all play a crucial role in the production of CO2, water and ATP, otherwise known as energy, the end product of glucose oxidation or oxidative metabolism.

Metabolism plays a key role in the process of building energy, as it is the sum of ALL biochemical processes in the body. It is the process of breaking down (catabolic) and building up (anabolic), however you can only be doing one or the other at any given moment. Maintaining a healthy and strong metabolism means providing your body the proper energy each day to meet the demands so you are using (breaking down) as mush as you are building up.

When this becomes out of balance and you are not giving your body back what has been used, your body responds with inflammation. Totally normal and essential to our survival, problem here is most people are living in severe energy deficits and not rebounding. Inflammation is the body’s way of keeping you alive.

As a result, thyroid hormone production decreases, metabolism slows down and cellular respiration is compromised.

Under optimal cellular conditions, CO2 is being produced from glucose oxidation providing a continuous release of oxygen from hemoglobin into the cells allowing for continued cellular respiration. CO2 is efficient in its production when all nutritional variables are present and in proper working order. Levels of CO2 indicate to the body when it needs more O2.

When the cells are not “breathing” properly as a result of a compromised metabolism, the production of both CO2 and O2 are decreased driving energy production away from glucose oxidation and into anaerobic glycolysis, a very inefficient energy system. Inefficient energy production through altered use of glucose and O2 results in the production of lactic acid instead of CO2. CO2 and lactic acid are antagonists to each other. The more lactic acid we produce the greater the burden on the overall metabolic function and communication of the body.

In summary, excess lactic acid production:

  • Is a metabolic burden and perpetuates inflammation
  • Causes the liver to use up stored glycogen
  • Moves cells away from efficient energy production

Additionally, in a low metabolic state, there is an adaptive increase in the sympathetic nervous system, which produces more adrenaline (up to 40x the normal rate). The adrenaline helps to sustain blood sugar and body temperature by causing vasoconstriction to the skin (cold hands and feet), but can also lead to disrupted sleep and an accelerated heart beat.

The effects of adrenaline on respiration have been studied and sited since way back showing adrenaline causes apnea partly by increasing the cerebral blood flow and washing out CO2 and partly by a direct action on the nerve cells of the respiratory center.

“Hypothyroidism can also worsen depression, cognitive function, arthritis, muscular aches, memory, respiratory problems, and sleep apnea.” Kenneth Ain MD

Respiration or breathing is the exchange of gases between the organism and their environment. Anything interfering with respiration, such as excess lactic acid production, will cause an increase in destructive oxidation. This inflammatory process causes hypoxia within the tissues and cells, hyperventilation.

The definition of hyperventilation states that you are breathing more than your body requires. The excess loss of CO2 and impaired cellular respiration leads to “tissue suffocation.”

“Hypothyroid people do not make enough carbon dioxide (CO2) or progesterone, and so they are in a chronic state of hyperventilation-hypocapnia (Ray Peat PhD).

How to improve and restore your sleep

Increase and restore cellular respiration by:

  • Eat metabolic digestible foods such as; fruit, root vegetables, quality protein and fats, in the proper balance for your body.
  • Eat more frequently throughout the day to help regulate blood sugar and restore hormone balance.


Subscribe for updates from East West Healing
+ Restoration Thyroid: 5 Proven Ways to Heal Your Adrenals and Boost Your Metabolism with Food Audio Series

Share Your Thoughts

  1. Rebecca

    As always, very informative. I am dealing with sleep apnea now, so this was timely. Thank you! and Happy New Year.

    January 1, 2016 • 1:23 pm •
  2. East West Healing

    Thank you and so glad we were able to get you headed in the right direction in the new year!

    January 14, 2016 • 7:18 am •
  3. Chris

    Excellent holistic advice. Happy new year and thanks for helping us to support ourselves

    January 2, 2016 • 12:55 am •