How Being Overweight Can Impact Your Sleep

Mustafa Ahmed, MD, is a board-certified surgeon and medical weight-loss specialist here at our practice, Southern Nevada Bariatrics, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dr. Ahmed is well-known for his commitment to providing the information our patients need to make informed decisions about their health. He explains the role that excess weight plays in your inability to sleep and how that affects your overall well-being.

How much sleep do I need for good health?

Adults, regardless of their age, generally require 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to accomplish the digestive processes, tissue repair tasks, and other important chores your body performs during sleep.

Dr. Ahmed explains that sleeping too much or too little can have a negative impact on your overall health and may increase your risk of developing:

  • Diabetes (type 2)
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Depression 

Note that poor sleep also leads to decreased production of the hormone that suppresses your appetite (leptin). This may help explain why adults who sleep less than seven hours a night often have difficulty losing weight. 

Why does being overweight make it harder to sleep?

Excess weight causes a variety of physical effects that can interfere with sleep patterns. The most common of which is likely obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

OSA causes repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night that, in overweight individuals, can be directly linked to changes in body habitus that disrupt your ability to breathe.

Other weight-related issues that may interfere with your sleep habits include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Worsening asthma control
  • Chronic pain related to musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis
  • Depression, which can cause you to sleep too little or too much
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage and pain related to diabetes

Extra pounds can also make it difficult to breathe or get comfortable when you’re lying down due to the increased pressure excess abdominal fat places on your lungs and diaphragm, especially when lying flat. This also contributes to GERD or heartburn.

The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that helps move air in and out of your lungs, and it separates the lungs from the stomach. If you’re overweight, you can help decrease the pressure on your diaphragm by sleeping on your side. 

Will losing weight cure my sleep difficulties?

While it can’t “cure” all the problems keeping you awake at night, losing those excess pounds can certainly help you develop healthier sleep habits.

The medically supervised weight-loss programs we offer at Southern Nevada Bariatrics are designed to promote quick results. We also provide nutrition counseling and other supportive services that help keep you motivated as you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Note that as a bariatric surgeon, Dr. Ahmed can also discuss the pros and cons of weight-loss surgery and its overall effectiveness.

Before recommending a weight-loss plan, Dr. Ahmed performs a thorough health evaluation and may include treatment recommendations for diabetes, heartburn, and other weight-related issues in your customized treatment strategy.

For more information about any of the services we offer at Southern Nevada Bariatrics, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ahmed today.

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