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Sleep Series Part 2: How Excess Weight Can Cause Poor Sleep

Sleep Series Part 2: How Excess Weight Can Cause Poor Sleep

Getting started

man sleeping behind alarm clock on night stand

You’ve turned the lights off, put the phone away, bought a white noise machine, stopped eating before bed, and turned the A/C down. So why are you still struggling to sleep? The answer may be in the mirror. As much as it hurts to hear, your body may be trying to tell you it’s not as healthy as it needs to be to get a good night’s sleep. Below, we talk about how excess weight can hurt your sleeping habits.

Sleep Apnea

Though more common in men, sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that is mainly caused by obesity and poor weight management in general. This can cause disruptions in your breathing, snoring, and feeling tired after a full night’s sleep. The only way to work on reopening the airway is to focus on weight loss and a healthy diet.

You may need a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure machine that can help you breathe at night and keep your airway open. For some, sleep apnea can persist even after losing weight, be sure to discuss how you feel with us, and we can refer you to a sleep specialist if needed.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when the contents of your stomach move up into the esophagus, causing damage like a sunburn or chemical burn. This could be why you have heartburn, coughing, vomiting, and a constant sore throat. You may experience a bad taste in your mouth and even discolored teeth. Over-the-counter medications can help with this digestive disease, but they are temporary. It mainly comes down to your choices regarding your lifestyle and health routine.

Joint Pain

Joint pain is tricky. It can be because of too much heavy lifting, lifting incorrectly, not lifting at all, sprains, strains, broken bones, and even arthritis. You can get it at any age or weight. Some ways to treat this include light exercises that help with strength and function, weight loss, pain relievers, topical treatments, and heating pads or ice packs. Joint pain affects many of us but treat it early and aggressively to minimize its progression.


Like sleep apnea, asthma can make breathing difficult even when you’re not exposed to pollen, animal fur, smoke, and other allergy catalysts. Asthma can cause chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing. According to the CDC: Obesity is associated significantly with the development of asthma, worsening asthma symptoms, and poor asthma control.

To get a better night’s rest with asthma, try sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your legs, or you can also try sleeping with your head propped up and a pillow under your knees.

The Bottom Line

Establishing a healthy sleep schedule is difficult for many people, healthy or not, but to have the best shot at it, start by focusing on weight loss.

Remember, don’t feel embarrassed to use the tools available to get you there. Investing in an excellent mattress can do wonders for your back and joints, and a CPAP can help get your airways open while you’re getting your weight down. For morbid obesity, bariatric surgery may be an option to consider.

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