How Obesity Affects Sleep

Obesity is becoming a serious health problem worldwide, and in the United states, more than a third of adults are classified as obese according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Being overweight increases the likelihood of developing life threatening health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. But one thing that is discussed less commonly with regard to obesity, is how it affects sleep. In fact, studies have shown that there is a direct link between lack of sleep and obesity, a link where obesity affects sleep as explained below.


Sleep Apnea and Obesity

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition which causes your breathing to be interrupted during sleep. Apnoea occurs when the muscles and soft tissues in your throat collapse a bit too much causing obstruction in your airways, making breathing difficult. During a normal night of restful sleep, 15 to 20 per cent of the time, you should be in what is known as slow wave sleep – the deepest form of sleep. It is this what allows you to feel awake and refreshed in the morning.

With sleep apnoea, interrupted breathing caused by obstruction causes the brain to jerk you out of deep sleep in order to resume normal breathing patterns. For some people, this means waking up fully, while for others, it means going into a lighter phase of sleep. Some people snore loudly in an attempt to get more air into their lungs. The snoring can also be interrupted by snorting and grunting which can cause you to wake up. This means that ultimately, those suffering with sleep apnoea wake up feeling tired and sleepy, like they have not had a good nights sleep. Everybody knows the risks associated with obesity, however, sleep apnoea further increases the risks of conditions associated with obesity, including:

  1. Diabetes
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Heart attack
  4. Stroke
  5. More obesity

According to the National Sleep Foundation, in the US, 18 million people reportedly suffer from sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is associated with obesity, in that the chances of developing it are increased by obesity. In addition, the presence of sleep apnoea increases the chances of developing obesity. If you are deprived of sleep, you end up very tired during the day. Being tired during the day means you have less energy to do any exercise, which also increases the chances of developing obesity.

In addition, sleep deprivation is known to reduce the ability of the body to process sugars. Over time, this can lead to diabetes. To make things worse, sleep deprivation means you are much more likely to drink coffee and eat sugary snacks in order to stay awake and boost energy. Too much sugar contributes significantly to the development obesity. It also reduces the ability of the body to metabolize sugar, further increasing the chance of developing diabetes.


If you are obese and have not developed sleep apnoea, losing weight should be a priority. As can be seen from the description of the cycle that can be perpetuated as a result of disordered sleep, developing sleep apnoea while obese can only serve to make your health problems worse.

If you already have sleep apnea and are obese, the best way to lose the weight can sometimes be to treat the sleep apnoea. In a report published in Science Daily in September 2012, a study showed that lack of sleep can lead to obesity and that getting proper sleep can help you to lose weight. One treatment for sleep apnea is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). It is an effective form of treatment and is wisely used. According to the National Sleep center, sometimes all that is required to jump start weight loss is better sleep patterns. Losing as little as 10 per cent of your current weight (if you are overweight) can lead to significantly improved sleep apnoea symptoms, which can then lead to further weight loss due to improved sleep.

What Else can Help

Exercise: Motivating yourself to get some exercise can have a significant impact on your overall health and on your sleeping patterns. It is important to leave at least three hours between the time and you exercise and bedtime as it can cause you to be too alert to fall asleep.

Diet: Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid fast foods. This will help to keep your blood sugar balanced and will also keep your weight down.

Sleep Schedule: Look at your sleep schedule and be honest. Are you getting enough restful sleep or not? Sometimes, something as simple as making sure you have a proper mattress, such as a pressure care mattress can have a significant impact on how much sleep you get.

About Blog Owner

I am Atanu Majumdar, owner of the blog HowToReduceObesity covers articles on various obesity, Weight loss, Fitness, Diet topics. If you like This post, you can follow howtoreduceobesity on Twitter or On Facebook Or On Google PlusI am Atanu Majumdar, owner of the blog Healthadvice4life covers articles on various Health and wellness topics. If you like This post, you can follow healthadvice4life on Twitter or On Facebook Or On Google Plus

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