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Sleep Behavior Diet Exercise

Sleeping Issues that Heavy People May Face

1 year, 1 month ago

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Posted on Apr 27, 2022, 4 a.m.

This article will discuss the different issues that weight can cause in regard to peoples sleeping habits. There is extensive evidence of a converse relationship between sleep and weight. Not only can being overweight impact your ability to fall and stay asleep, but lack of sleep can lead to a higher risk of weight gain and obesity. 

Common Sleep Struggles 

Sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome are some of the most common sleep struggles that overweight individuals face. 

  • Sleep Apnea 

Obesity can greatly increase your risk of suffering from sleep apnea as fat deposits around your airway can obstruct your breathing. Those with larger necks may have more fat deposits around their airway, which can obstruct breathing. There have been numerous studies that connect neck circumference to sleep apnea. When dealing with obstructive sleep apnea, the most effective prevention or treatment is to address medical conditions such as being overweight.

  • Insomnia

Medical conditions such as obesity can disrupt sleep. Obesity can lead to pain or discomfort that can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. 

  • Restless Leg Syndrome

Adults who are obese are significantly more likely to suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome. Obese women are at a higher risk of suffering from RLS than obese men. 

 How to overcome weight-related sleep issues?


There are several reasons why exercise is effective in improving sleep for those struggling with weight issues:

  • Taking part in exercise during the day has been shown to improve sleep efficiency and duration, especially for adults.
  • Physically demanding activities, such as exercise, increases the desire to sleep that naturally builds throughout the day. 
  • Exercise can help you lose weight, which may make you more comfortable and may make breathing easier. Losing weight around your neck and head can help improve snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Regular exercise can help improve the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, which should increase your ability to fall and stay asleep. 


There are several foods and beverages that, when removed from your diet, can improve your ability to sleep. Some of these include, but are not limited to, alcohol, spicy foods, high-fat foods, and high-protein foods.

  • Alcohol: While alcohol may initially provide some aid in the ability to fall asleep, when it wears off, it can wake people up during the restorative stages of sleep. Alcohol can also worsen sleep apnea. 
  • Spicy Foods: Spicy food can lead to heartburn, which can impact your sleep. Spicy food has also been known to worsen sleep apnea. Some studies have shown that spicy foods can increase your core body temperature. This can disrupt your sleep because your body temperature naturally drops while you sleep, and if your temperature is overheated then it can be difficult for your body to shift into sleep mode. 
  • Hight-Fat Foods: Eliminating high-fat foods from your diet, coupled with exercise, can help reduce weight, which should make it easier to sleep. 
  • High Protein Foods: High-protein foods can disrupt sleep because it takes the body a long time to break them down. This will put extra strain on your body, especially since your digestive system slows down significantly while you sleep.  

Caffeine and nicotine can also impact your sleep and should be removed from your diet and lifestyle if you are trying to manage sleep issues.

Good Quality Mattress

Having a good mattress is essential for a good night’s sleep. The ideal mattress for heavy people should reduce pain and discomfort on the pressure points and joints of your body, thus your ability to fall asleep. The right mattress varies from person to person. Investing in an adjustable base mattress is also a great option for those who struggle with sleep disorders as a result of being overweight. Adjustable base beds can not only increase your comfort, but they can help improve breathing, digestion, and circulation.

There is a strong connection between sleep and weight. Obesity and other weight issues can impact sleep, but sleep is essential in preventing weight gain and obesity. Common sleep disorders faced by those who are overweight include, but are not limited to, sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome. Improving your diet, increasing or adding in daily exercise, and investing in a good quality mattress are three effective ways to improve your sleep. Weight gain and obesity can lead to a number of health disorders, so it is important to make sure you are taking care of yourself and getting the sleep that you need.

This article was written for WHN by Jeremy Merchant, blogger and health advocate. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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