In attempting to discover the link between sleep apnea and obesity, researchers (primarily in California) looked at adults with symptoms of sleep apnea and evaluated their resting energy expenditures (REE). To determine the amount of energy consumption, indirect calorimetry was used to measure REE for the patients. REE is the number of calories expended over a 24-hour period during a non-active period. Researchers found that REE was positively correlated with the severity of sleep apnea. The more severe a person's sleep apnea, the more calories they burned during sleeping.
How many more calories did sleep apnea sufferers burn? The disparity between the high level and the low level was 373 calories per night. However, this should not be taken as a recommendation that sufferers should avoid treatment for their sleep apnea in the hope of losing weight. As we have already seen, sleep apnea leads to a poor diet, and the amount of additional energy consumption is roughly equal to the amount of additional calories consumed in fat and protein alone. And it doesn't help dissipate the additional cholesterol consumed. And the dangers of sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke and heart attack, mean leaving the condition untreated is a dangerous thing.