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Sleep Apnoe and Bodybuilding


CT posted somewhere some time ago that above a certain weight he gets sleep apnoe.

That struck me as odd because I thought that only people with higher BF got sleep apnoe.

Since I had the opportunity to pick the mind of an expert here is how that could happen:

Your body needs oxygen. This is why you breathe.

BB need lots of oxygen. We all know about BB and their nemesis, i.e. stairs.

Now when you need more oxygen you breathe deeper. That is no problem as long as you are in an upright position and have some muscle tone.

However you muscles relax when you sleep in order to prevent you from acting out your dreams. The deeper the sleep, the more relaxed your muscles are.

Your trachea, i.e windpipe is part muscle and relaxes too. When you need lots of oxygen and breathe deeper the airflow gets faster which in turn creates a negative pressure that can close the trachea entirely.

Nobody dies from this, at least not right away, because there is a reflex that makes you breathe again, but it leads to distorted sleep patterns, high blood pressure and massive amounts of stress hormones to be dumped in to your body,

So in a nut shell:

Bigger body needs more oxygen, more oxygen means deeper breathing, deeper breathing makes trachea collapse in your sleep = sleep apnoe.

Now most people might not run into this problem due to size alone but if you already have a deviated septum or your jaw falls back when you sleep or anything really that restricts airflow, added muscle mass at least might push you over the edge.


I know a lot of bodybuilders with diagnosed sleep apnea, some of them are using the breathing machine when they sleep!

The body's need for more oxygen is one thing. The size of the neck also contributes to less efficient air entry. High blood pressure is also to be considered, especially at higher bodyweights.


I know that high blood pressure is linked to sleep apnoe.

I do now know if sleep apnoe is caused by high blood pressure but I do know that sleep apnoe can cause high blood pressure because the brain releases adrenaline, noradrenaline and whatnot in part because it must make sure that it gets enough oxygen. The high blood pressure is a safety measure to prevent brain damage.

So if in turn high blood pressure should cause sleep apnoe that would be a perfect vicious circle that gets worse over time and I do not think that this is a good thing especially if a BB already has high blood pressure problems for other reasons. i.e. steroids.

The good news is though that a simple device that pulls your jaw forward while you sleep might be more than enough for most BBs.


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