Alaska Sleep Education Center

Heavy Sleeping: Sleep Deprivation and Obesity

Posted by Jane Sandwood on Nov 23, 2019 10:55:00 AM


Sleep and your weight are inextricably linked—especially if you lack sleep. Roughly 1 out of 3 adults are sleep deprived, according to the Journal of Community Health. Not getting enough sleep will start having detrimental effects on your weight and overall well-being. So if you find yourself wrestling with sleep loss and your weight, what can you do about it?

The Link Between Obesity and Sleep

Do you find yourself getting heavier after lacking sleep? Turns out, there’s a biological reason for that. A study of nurses over 16 years found that those that did not get enough sleep had become obese over time. The same study found that those that lack sleep had a 30% increased risk of gaining over 30 pounds.

At the same time, if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is already 30% past your ideal weight, it also introduces issues with your sleep cycle. An unhealthy BMI increases your risk for sleep apnea and asthma. So both the amount of sleep and your BMI need to be balanced in order to be healthy. So what needs to change?

Start with a Lifestyle Change

To start addressing an issue, you need to know what’s causing it. Weight and sleep are affected by a myriad of factors that include lifestyle, mental health, and social environment. So take some time to identify problematic habits like putting too much on your plate or spending all day sitting down. Once you’ve identified them, start changing them.

It can be simple changes at first like taking the stairs rather than using the elevator. It could also include organizing your schedule to slot in meal prep or meditation. Committing to a healthier and more active lifestyle helps defeat obesity, according to the Department of Health and Social Services. So all the changes you make lay down the bricks toward a healthier you.

Consult Experts

Need a medicine-based structure to fight sleep deprivation and obesity? Consult with the experts. Visit your doctor and get a check-up to give you a strong idea of your present state of health. You can also consult a Sleep Specialist. They’ll be able to talk you through existing and any other underlying issues that contribute to your lack of sleep. Need help to get your eating under control?

Taking a trip to see a dietician can also give you a stronger idea of what is nutritious without having to sacrifice portion size. Your regular physical activity can also benefit from the input of an expert. If you start going to the gym, a fitness instructor can pair you with a good work-out that fits your current health and stamina level. While providing you with a healthy and reasonable goal to meet. 

Obesity is completely preventable; so is sleep deprivation. If you are already obese, take heart in the fact that it is something that can be changed.

All you need to do is to understand what is affecting your weight and sleep. Then, start with small yet meaningful changes to your habits. It may take a while but before you know it, you’ll be able to get the right amount of sleep that will further power your healthier lifestyle. 

Tips on Battling Obesity

More Americans are overweight or obese today than ever before. This upward shift in weight has been triggered across the board by easier access to food and, over the course of the last two decades, a movement toward sedentary jobs. also notes that fast food, which makes up more than 10% of the average American’s diet, has played a major role in the obesity epidemic.

Here are five tips that can help you lose weight and stay healthy without feeling deprived.

1. Get plenty of rest

While a sedentary lifestyle contributes to weight gain, getting enough sleep can actually help you by allowing your body time to recuperate from workouts and just day-to-day activity. How? Well, muscle helps you burn fat, but adequate sleep is needed to aid in the protein synthesis that makes muscle.

Even adding an extra 30 minutes of shut eye will improve your quality of life. To squeeze in those extra minutes, look for ways you can get to bed earlier or sleep longer. Perhaps you could lay your clothes out for the day the night before, or cut down on the amount of time you spend perusing social media in bed, which you shouldn’t do anyway because it is poor sleep hygiene.

2. Include your furry friend in your fitness routine

Your dog is your biggest champion when it comes to encouraging you on your weight loss journey. An hour walking the dog can help you burn more than 200 calories. An afternoon at the dog park or hiking your local nature trail does more than burn calories. Exposure to the outdoors will encourage you to stay in motion and exercise more, which will strengthen your body and enhance your body’s overall cardiovascular function. Your dog will also be a source of motivation, as he is always up for a doggy adventure, and exercising your pooch is a necessary part of dog ownership. 

3. Swap a few foods at a time

One reason fad diets fail is because they require a drastic alteration of your day-to-day dietary habits. Food affects sleep depending on when it is eaten, how much, and what type. Don’t get stuck choosing between foods you hate, and make a few healthy swaps of food you already like – or at least foods that you can learn to love. For instance, instead of a sugary yogurt with your breakfast, opt for Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. is an excellent resource that can help you find healthy alternatives at home and on the go. 

4. Focus on your mental health

With obesity comes a range of emotions from anger to depression, and many who are overweight suffer with self-image issues. It is not enough to simply handle the physical aspects of your weight problem; you must also find ways to improve your mental health. Mental health and attitude directly relate to poor sleep. When you are tired, it becomes much more difficult to handle stressful situations. So sleep should definitely be mentioned in some way here.

Start by making a list of all the things you like about yourself and keep them in the forefront of your mind. The key to losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle requires that you change the way you think, and a mindset overhaul begins and ends with good mental health. You can research all the tips and tricks in the world, but without commitment and positive thinking, forward progress will be hard. As you begin this journey, remember that your mind and body are a unit, and they need to be in sync.

5. Get social

Another aspect of mental and physical health are the people you bring into your life. When it comes to battling obesity, your friends and family can help. Find one person to be your accountability partner. This person can not only workout with you, but check in daily, provide support, celebrate your achievements, and help you move forward after a setback. Talk with your friends, cousins, sisters, or coworkers and start a fitness club together.

Perhaps the group could try out that new fitness class you were a little nervous about going to on your own. Motivating each other can help you all regain control of your health and overall wellness, and knowing someone is counting on you can be motivation enough to get up and get moving.

While you ideally want to aim for a BMI of 25 or less, losing just 5% of your body weight has significant health benefits that start at a cellular level. explains that that even this small amount of weight – approximately 10 pounds for a 200 pound individual – is an attainable goal for most.

You don’t have to change your entire life or lose half your body weight to reap major health rewards. A few small changes here and there can set you on the path toward a healthy lifestyle which, regardless of the numbers on the scale, is something from which we can all benefit.

Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today for your free sleep assessment.  

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Topics: health, diet, getting sleep, obesity

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