How being overweight or obese affects your risk of sleep problems

William Adams
 min read

Struggling with sleep problems? Being overweight or obese might have something to do with it. Here’s what you should know.

How being overweight or obese affects your risk of sleep problemsDid you know that the amount of people with sleep apnea increases with weight?

It is easy to understand that being overweight or obese can have unfavorable health effects.

What is the impact on your sleep, and how significant is the threat of sleep problems?

You’ll be amazed to learn the unexpected ways that your ability to rest may be jeopardized, from snoring to sleep apnea.

This article will inform you about the connections between weight and sleep.

Furthermore, it will explain how poor sleep may result in weight gain.

Sleep apnea

As the airways become more packed and more vulnerable to collapse, airflow can completely stop.

This will result in pauses in breathing, also known as apnea.

This originates from a Greek word that suggests “without breath.”

A partial blockage might also occur. This is called hypopnea and is less intense than apnea.

During a sleep test, machines will analyze your nighttime breathing.

The results of this sleep test are summarized in the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI).

The issues connected with sleep apnea are well-established.

There are symptoms like excessive daytime drowsiness, problems with memory, concentration, and mood.

Although there are more serious consequences:

  • It also increases the risk of heart hypertension and diabetes
  • Sleep apnea results in a higher risk of stroke and sudden death

Obese kids have their own side effects, consisting of impacts on growth and advancement.

Weight gain leads to snoring and sleep apnea

The most known complication of obesity on your sleep is interrupted breathing.

This directly leads to snoring and sleep apnea.

The extreme amounts of fat insulate and pad your body.

Think about a big stomach, a fuller face, enhanced hips, or larger buttocks.

Likewise, it hides in places that we can’t see straight away.

For example, fat is stored along the airways and at the base of the tongue.

But that’s not everything. There’s also weight pushing from the outside.

Increased neck size or a bigger stomach pushing against your lungs can minimalize the lung volumes.

All of this fat padding, combined with the outside factors, squishes the respiratory tract and causes many problems.

Understanding your risks based on your body weight

People worldwide take in more calories and participate in less physical activity.

As a result, the number of individuals who are overweight continues to grow.

This endangers health in obvious ways.

Weight problems are factually connected to heart stroke, diabetes, and other diseases.

These health issues are related to the degree of obesity.

The most common way to correlate weight and height is the body mass index (BMI).

It tries to approximate your relative body fat.

The resulting number helps to categorize people based upon weight:

  • Underweight (BMI <18.5)
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9)
  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9)
  • Obese (BMI 30-34.9)
  • Morbidly obese (BMI 35 and higher)

This method is not ideal.

It might overestimate body fat in professional athletes or undervalue body fat in older individuals who have actually lost muscle mass.

You can easily calculate your BMI with an online calculator.

Generally, the threat level for developing health problems is related to the amount of body fat you have.

In other words: the more pounds you stack, the higher the risks.

You are at the greatest risk of various health problems if you are obese.

Poor sleep might cause weight gain or worsen weight problems

There seems to be an opposite relationship between sleep and obesity.

It is a fact that being obese can negatively affect your sleep through sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

However, specific sleep problems may also be related to obesity.

Abnormal sleep habits, or parasomnias, might play a role.

One such condition is called sleep-related eating disorder (SRED).

A person with SRED will consistently and involuntarily eat during sleep.

The foods consumed may be uncommon, thick in calories, and even inedible (such as coffee grounds or kitty litter).

Most people with SRED only find out by finding missing food or a messy cooking area in the morning.

Another way for them to find out is by noticing they simply can’t lose any weight.

A much more common contribution to gaining weight is sleep deprivation.

This is something we most likely all experience.

Research suggests that insufficient sleep may cause hormone changes, which disrupt the metabolic process.

Our metabolic system regulates the use and storage of fat.

Interrupted sleep may also result in insulin resistance. This might lead to an increased threat to diabetes.

For that reason, not getting enough hours of sleep, or sleeping poorly, might aggravate weight gain.

If you want to improve your sleep quality while being overweight, then we suggest you also read our sleep tips for plus size people!


A clear air passage makes no sound. When it is moderately disrupted, it leads to snoring.

Nevertheless, when the circulation is blocked, chaos results.

In a river, whitewater breaks and disrupts the surface area. A smooth flow becomes a turbulent one.

In your respiratory tract, the interrupted airflow ends up being noisy and leads to snoring.

When snoring, you most likely have blockages along the path your breath takes.

Examples of these blockages are:

  • Bigger tonsils or adenoids
  • A deviated septum in the nose
  • Small lower jaw (called retrognathia)
  • A big tongue (called macroglossia)

Especially children are more vulnerable to having issues from enlarged tonsils.


In summary, there are obvious relationships between being overweight and having trouble sleeping.

The most typical resulting condition is sleep apnea, along with a range of crucial consequences.

There might even be an increased danger of unforeseen disorders, such as restless legs syndrome.

As a basic guideline, losing 10 percent of your body’s weight might reduce some of these impacts.

Likewise, there seems to be a reverse association between disrupted sleep and the danger of weight problems.

Sleep deprivation is an especially common event. This complex relationship deserves your attention.

The impacts of poor sleep and weight problems together can weaken your health.

In this light, it makes sense to also analyze the bed you sleep in. Did you know there are even heavy-duty bunk beds for obese people?

These beds can save space in a studio or apartment and certain types can be easily considered as super safe bunk beds for heavy people.

If it is not comfortable for you or does not give you a feeling of safety while sleeping, it won’t help you get the sleep you need.

About William Adams

I’m an engineer and a happy plus-size individual myself. I love to blog online if I can have a positive impact on the lives of others. I help other plus-size people with in-depth product guides to make shopping for products and services less stressful in their busy lives. Read More