Have you noticed that you’re feeling sluggish during the day? Not only is there evidence that suggests that obesity can cause insomnia or trouble sleeping, but there is also evidence that shows a link between obesity and an increase in daytime sleepiness or fatigue.
If you struggle with obesity, you may already know that there are risks that can affect your sleep and also your overall health. However, if you fall into the category of higher-than-necessary body fat, that can also affect your sleep.
Reducing Body Fat a Little Can Help Your Sleep
Trimming down excess body fat, no matter the amount, can lead to better sleep as well as better health overall. Weight loss, whether it’s from dietary changes alone or from diet combined with exercise, can help improve the quality of sleep among people who are overweight. There’s also evidence that poor sleep may cause weight gain, so it is important to focus first on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
The Link Between Obesity And Sleep Problems
There are several sleep problems that are linked to being overweight or obese:
- may impact sleep-wake cycles and metabolism
- can put pressure on your neck, especially when lying down
- an increase in soft tissue in the airway, which can lead to snoring
- obstructive sleep apnea
- higher risk of heart disease due to obstructive sleep apnea
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Sleep Cycle and Metabolism
There is growing evidence that sleep loss and sleep disorders have a significant impact on metabolism. If you’re not sleeping soundly, this can alter the glucose metabolism hormones involved in regulating metabolism.
Pressure on Your Neck
Excessive weight can lead to bad posture – where your head is slightly pushed forward, and your back is curved. This puts more weight on the neck and shoulders, causing them to strain. You may experience tightness, fatigue, or even muscle aches from too much weight on your neck and shoulders. This discomfort can affect your ability to sleep comfortably or to experience a complete sleep cycle. Excess body fat can put pressure on your neck not only while you’re standing and sitting but especially when lying down.
If you regularly snore at night, it can disrupt the quality of your sleep. This leads to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring, and even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring. Exercising and losing weight can sometimes be all that’s required to end your snoring, and no snoring equals a better night’s sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. It causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep. Most, but not all, people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. Fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct breathing, and the risk of obstructive sleep apnea also increases as we age due to lower muscle control.
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, even when the environment and conditions are just right. According to research, insomnia is much more likely to be reported in people that are overweight. It is a vicious cycle of poor sleep that leads to the issues that cause weight gain and obesity, leading to common sleep disorders. Therefore, it’s essential to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through healthy nutrition and exercise.
Heart Disease Due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When a person with obstructive sleep apnea attempts to breathe, they inhale against a narrowed or closed upper airway. These unsuccessful, forced inhalations can cause substantial changes in pressure within the chest cavity. Over time, these repetitive changes in intrathoracic pressure can damage the heart.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Clinical evidence strongly suggests that GERD is associated with sleep disturbances, including shorter sleep duration, difficulty falling asleep, arousals during sleep, poor sleep quality, and awakening early in the morning. It’s important to control GERD through healthy nutrition by eliminating acidic, fatty foods, alcohol, and other foods or beverages that are known to cause or exacerbate GERD. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can also lead to eliminating or greatly reducing acid reflux.
The Takeaway: Weight Loss Reduces Sleep Apnea and Improves Sleep Quality
Yes, reducing body fat will not only help you sleep but will also improve the quality of your sleep. Weight loss improves blood sugar control, which could reduce restlessness. Lowering your body fat percentage through diet and exercise can reduce the risk of many sleep disorders. People who exercise routinely tend to sleep better and feel more alert during the day, thus causing them to maintain a healthier weight.
Weight loss, whether it’s from dietary changes alone or from diet combined with exercise, can help improve the quality of sleep among people who are overweight or obese. Healthy sleep cycles are so important to our quality of life, especially as we age. Because unhealthy weight affects sleep and sleep affects our ability to maintain a healthy weight, it’s essential to achieve a healthy weight through proper nutrition and routine exercise. These good habits will eliminate the vicious cycle of one problem supporting the other problem and having you feel stuck.
There is hope, and there is a solution; begin with cleaning up your nutrition and make sure you’re doing intentional, brisk walking each day. When you’re ready for the next challenge, plan workouts that are more intense. This will increase muscle mass and have you sleeping better in no time!