Many factors can influence the quality of sleep that you get, and weight is a significant one. Your weight can have a great impact on sleep, which influences many other areas of wellness in your life, but luckily, it is something that can oftentimes be managed. Many studies show how weight affects your sleep, and research has also shown a strong correlation between poor sleep with weight gain. Want to learn how a healthy weight and getting the best sleep go hand in hand? Read on…
How Excess Weight Affects Sleep
The majority of the studies that reveal a correlation between weight and sleep have found that increased weight is associated with decreased sleep quality, and that individuals with a lower BMI have better sleep. These findings were also consistent amongst groups with and without sleep apnea. One study concluded that in general, obese adolescents experience less sleep than non-obese adolescents.
Another study, which evaluated 250 men and women with an average BMI of 45 (a healthy weight tends to be a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), found significant differences in sleep quality when compared to non-overweight control participants. Those who weighed more had an increased number of awakenings throughout the night and a decreased amount of time in deep sleep in comparison to the control group.1
Sleep apnea, poor quality sleep, interrupted sleep, and even choking at night are also some of the sleep-related side effects of excess weight. Snoring, which is known to decrease sleep quality, was found to be present in 46.7% of obese patients in one study, in comparison to 8.1% of individuals in the control group. The same study reported that excess daytime sleepiness was found in 34.7% of overweight participants, when only 2.7% of healthy weight subjects experienced this fatigue.2
Overweight participants of other studies also reported increased symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, later sleep onset, shorter sleep time, disrupted sleep, daytime sleepiness, parasomnias, and inadequate sleep when compared to controls.3
Measuring obesity by evaluating both body fat percentage and BMI, a study evaluated the sleep quality of 383 males and females. By tracking total sleep time and sleep disturbances, researchers conducting the study found that those that were obese experienced less sleep on average than non-obese participants.4
How losing weight helps sleep
Excess weight is correlated with a worse sleep, so does that mean losing weight helps improve sleep? Science says yes.
An article from the European Journal of Internal Medicine states that when it comes to obstructive sleep apnea, weight loss is the most important therapy, as it changes anatomy and decreases airway collapses which causes snoring (and a poor sleep).5
Another study, which got participants to receive dietary counselling, found that a weight loss of 10 kgs or more significantly reduced sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness, demonstrating the benefits of weight loss for a better sleep.6
How poor sleep influences weight gain
Increased weight can cause poor sleep, which in turn, can also lead to even more weight gain. One study found that regularly getting below even 7.7 hours of sleep was associated with an increased BMI.7
In a study which assessed sleep quality and duration found that when these factors were high, weight-loss success increased by 33% in participants.8
Additionally, for each hour lost of sleep, odds of obesity increased by 80%. Factors for this weight gain were due to the decrease in physical activity level, which was observed to diminish 3% for every hour of sleep disturbance.9
Another reason that lack of sleep causes weight gain can be attributed to the fact that being awake may lead to snacking, which is also necessary to supplement for missing energy that would have been restored during sleep. This cycle has also been seen to be exacerbated if sleep loss leads to physical exhaustion and a decrease in exercise, causing weight gain.10
The relationship between weight and sleep is evident, and research clearly shows that maintaining a healthy weight is necessary for a good quality sleep.
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