With over 65% of Americans classified as overweight or obese, excess weight is a growing problem in our population. When it comes to sleep, being heavier can cause various issues that can negatively impact the safety and quality of our sleep. As a rule, it’s best to aim for a healthy BMI to ensure the best possible night’s sleep.
However, if you fall into the category of overweight or obese, there are some measures you can take at home to try to minimize the effects on your sleep.
Here are 8 common ways that being overweight can affect your nightly slumber, along with suggestions for simple changes that might go some way to minimizing the impact.
1. Obesity is linked with sleep apnea
Unfortunately, obesity is linked with a variety of sleep-related disorders. One of the most common is sleep apnoea and is often caused by excess weight around the neck and trunk.
So, this can cause obstructed breathing. As well as posing a risk to your health, sleep apnea can cause loud snoring and disrupt the quality of sleep during the night. If you are struggling with your breathing at night, you should consult your physician as soon as possible.
Sleep apnoea can be treated, and your doctor is likely to suggest weight loss as part of your treatment plan.
But what about your bed? You could consider purchasing an adjustable bed frame. Some come with pre-set positions specifically designed to help those with sleep apnoea, so they may be a useful purchase.
2. Being overweight can cause insomnia and restless legs syndrome
Insomnia is a condition whereby you find it very difficult to fall, and stay, asleep. Also associated with obesity is Restless Legs Syndrome, where you feel an overwhelming urge to move your legs around while you’re lying in bed.
Both of these conditions can cause sleep deprivation and reduced-quality sleep. If you believe you are suffering from either condition, you should see a doctor to discuss treatment options.
3. Lack of, or poor-quality sleep affects appetite
According the the National Sleep Foundation, there is a link between poor-quality sleep and obesity. Sleep deprivation, or a low quality of sleep, is associated with a higher appetite during the day due to low levels of a hormone called leptin, which controls appetite. Furthermore, the sensation of being extremely fatigued can be easily confused with the feeling of being extremely hungry.
Therefore, if you aren’t sleeping enough or your sleep quality is poor, you’re more likely to overeat and become overweight. The good news is that improving sleep time and quality can help to normalise your appetite. That’s one of the reasons that it’s so important to seek help from a doctor to treat any sleep disorder, especially if you are already overweight.
4. Poor sleep affects blood sugar levels
A study at the University of Chicago found that not getting enough sleep can affect the body’s ability to process glucose. This has a negative effect on metabolism, sometimes to levels typically seen in diabetes sufferers.
Furthermore, it seems this predisposes people to put on more weight. This provides yet another reason that people who are overweight should seek to address any issues with their sleep.
5. Being overweight or obese may cause lower back pain
While the link has not been proven, many doctors and scientists believe that carrying extra weight around your trunk can lead to lower back pain. Also, this back pain can be severe. Furthermore, having pain in your back can make it hard to get comfortable and achieve high-quality sleep at night.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to select a mattress that encourages your spine into a healthy alignment. People who weigh more than 200 lbs should look for a firm mattress of at least 15 inches thick to best support their body weight.
6. Obesity and joint pain
Unfortunately, carrying extra weight puts a lot of extra pressure on joints. Therefore, this can lead to joint conditions and discomfort over time. In fact, you only need to be around 10 pounds overweight to start experiencing excess pressure on your joints. This in turn can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
While a mattress cannot solve joint pain that’s caused by obesity, the right mattress can help to ease discomfort. A supportive mattress will reduce pressure on painful joints, making sleep more comfortable. Look for a mattress that is firm. You may also wish to consider memory foam, which cradles your joints as you sleep.
7. Excess weight can cause you to sleep hot
If you are carrying excess weight, your body can’t lose excess heat as efficiently. So, this can cause you to sleep hot at night. Also, this can feel very uncomfortable and can reduce the quality of your sleep. Therefore, it’s a good idea to select a mattress that is breathable as it will dissipate heat in the night more easily.
If you’re thinking of buying a memory foam mattress, consider one that’s infused with gel as this is more breathable. Traditional memory foam is notorious for sleeping hot. Also, pocket sprung mattresses are a good option if you sleep hot as they have spaces within the mattress for air to circulate.
Furthermore, you may want to look at mattresses with something called open cell technology. This technology is specially designed to help keep air circulating, and therefore keep you cool, at night.
8. Obesity is inked with poor circulation
Poor circulation caused by obesity causes a whole host of problems, such as tingling or numb limbs or even Edema. This can cause swollen hands and feet. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look for a bed that will help maintain healthy circulation.
An adjustable bed frame may be particularly helpful, as you can adjust your position to improve circulation and reduce swelling by raising particular parts of the body.
Hopefully, you now understand the various ways that obesity can affect sleep. If you believe that excess weight is causing a serious health condition like sleep apnea or edema, it’s important that you consult your physician as soon as possible.
However, as you have read, the right bed and mattress for your needs can go a long way to helping relieve some of the more uncomfortable symptoms. Happy sleeping!