More and more people are becoming aware of how important sleep quality is to overall health. One of the things that are receiving more attention is its relationship to weight: How much does your overall weight affect the quality of rest? Does it even have an effect? Does a healthier weight result in healthier sleep quality?

Sleeping and weight loss are not two things that usually go hand in hand however, Getting enough sleep and getting enough exercise are two things that go hand in hand in order to build muscle and burn fat. Since losing sleep robs our body of the time to rebuild our muscles and rest, not taking advantage of sleep when exercising usually leads to suboptimal gains in terms of muscle.

In addition to that, millions of people suffer the difficulties and problems that come with having a bad sleep or not enough sleep. Some resort to getting prescribed a medication to help them sleep consistently, another 

What is Sleep Quality 

Before we go on any further, we have to look into the definition of sleep quality. Just because you are able to sleep doesn't necessarily mean your sleep will be useful to you in the long run. Sleep quality is the measurement of how well you’re sleeping. Though it is more complicated to measure than sleep quantity, it’s not entirely subjective. If you want to get sleep quality,  you’ll see that there are some very specific things that can help you attain quality sleep. There are a lot of variables to consider to account for individual and age differences but some items are generally assessed to measure sleep quality. (1)

  • Sleep latency is a measurement of how long it takes you to fall asleep. Being able to doze off within 30 minutes or less after the time you go to bed suggests that the quality of your sleep is good.
  • Sleep waking is how often you wake up during the night. Being awake more times at night disrupts your sleep cycle and reduces your sleep quality. Sleeping through and not waking up at all is an indicator of good sleep quality.
  • Wakefulness refers to how many minutes you spend awake during the night after you first go to sleep. People with good sleep quality have 20 minutes or less of wakefulness during the night.
  • Sleep efficiency is the amount of time you spend actually sleeping while in bed is known as sleep efficiency. This measurement should ideally be 85 percent or more for optimal health benefits. 

There are now a lot of ways for regular consumers to measure the quality of their sleep. Activity trackers now have a variety of features that allow these wearable devices to give you feedback regarding the quality of your sleep, duration of REM and other sleep states, how many times you woke up, and for how long you woke up. 

Most of these activity trackers use the data like heart rate and use that to correlate weight loss. With the sudden popularity of these trackers, there are now more ways of being able to assess the quality of your sleep that you didn't have before. Now people are more invested in the quality of their sleep and making sure we get the most out of our sleep. A person on a good night’s rest can be more effective.

Having the right amount of sleep allows us to function without issues. And there are consequences when we don't go home any more.

Doctors urge us to make sure we get enough sleep in order to be able to function the next day. Sleep is like medicine that we take to help our bodies recover from everyday activities. Lack of sleep affects cognitive awareness, impaired alertness, affects memory, and misses out on any activities during the day because of fatigue.

Sleep Disorders

There are also a number of disorders that affect the quality of sleep, Insomnia, Narcolepsy, and Sleep Apnea being 3 of the most common ones. Sleep disorders are of course not to be taken lightly, there are some instances that may result in death. There are, of course, other sleeping disorders that others experience, but these three are some of the most common. (2)


A sleep disorder where people have difficulty falling or staying asleep. It is one of the more well-known and widely accepted sleep disorders. People with insomnia usually have difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble going back, waking up too early, having restless sleep, and being affected during the day by fatigue, sleepiness, and mood problems. Insomnia varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. About 50% of adults experience occasional bouts of insomnia. (3)

Research studies have found that in men, insomnia is related to lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and alcohol dependency but not to aging. The study found that there was a  close relationship between quality of sleep and overall health status. (4)


A sleep disorder that involves excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. It would appear to be the most patently obvious reason for disruption. It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls sleeping and waking. If you have narcolepsy, you may have “sleep attacks” in the middle of talking, working, or even driving. You have no control over it, you just fall asleep, sometimes it shows excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of muscle tone, sleep paralysis, or even hallucinations. These things make narcolepsy a dangerous sleep disorder to have because you never really know when it will attack.

Sleep seems related as people with narcolepsy may have other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea — a condition in which breathing starts and stops throughout the night — restless legs syndrome, and even insomnia. (5) A study found a tendency for increased weight gain is intrinsic to childhood narcolepsy and is manifested relatively early in the course of the disorder. (6)

Sleep Apnea 

A sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep. Some people with less pronounced sleep apnea may not even be aware that they had it. It is not just simple snoring but it is a more severe effect of not being able to breathe properly while asleep. Often evidenced by loud snoring, gasping for air, dry mouth, headaches, insomnia, and difficulty with fatigue and irritability. If you have sleep apnea you may not remember these awakenings, but you’ll likely feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in your productivity. Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder that should be taken more seriously. (7)

Sleep apnea has been connected with being overweight. Among subjects aged 5-15 years who were subjected to overnight polysomnograms and grouped into apnea severity categories (minimal, mild, moderate, or severe) on the basis of respiratory disturbance index and minimum arterial oxygen saturation levels. Body Mass Index has used a reference for their weight. (8)

The frequency of sleep apnea in normal-weight patients was lower than in overweight and obese patients. The frequency of concomitant sleep apnea was lower in normal-weight patients than in obese subjects. Normal weight patients were mostly women, younger, and had no toxic habits. In normal-weight patients, age and gender were predictive factors for sleep apnea. (9)

A study comparing severe sleep apnea between obese, morbidly obese and superobese patients showed that the higher the weight, the more likely it was for them to develop or have sleep apnea. (10)

This condition may be more common than you think. One review claimed that 24% of men and 9% of women have sleep apnea. (11)

The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. 

Is There A Conclusive Connection?

As always, different studies can mean different results because. There appears to be a connection between having a higher BMI and having better sleep quality. More importantly, in obese patients who have high BMI, Sleep disorders like Narcolepsy, Insomnia and Sleep Apnea appear to be more prevalent. Granted a lot of the studies cited involved people who were overweight or obese.

Most studies that deal with the relationship between weight and sleep quality tend to study those with higher body mass indexes. Given the increased prevalence of obesity in the last few decades, the relationship has been more frequently studied. Studies suggest that sleep loss is associated with a risk of obesity. And along with it, sleep duration, poor sleep quality, and obstructive sleep apnea. Some studies have found that these may actually increase obesity risk and recommend further studies. (12)

Though others conclude that there is a connection between weight and sleep quality, though not a causal one. (13)(14) Most studies still recommend further analysis and research on the area.

Many of the studies usually control for age, gender, and other factors and not all have found consistent causal relationships between those two variables, though many carefully suggest this possibility.

But Not All Studies Are the Same!

It is however wrong to say that there is a consensus regarding body weight and sleep quality. Because there's significant literature that suggests that poor sleep quality may predict obesity and high body fat mass among adults. , some refute a causal relationship between sleep quality and weight loss, while others claim that things are the other way around. (15) However, a causal relationship still has to be confirmed by prospective studies with objective measurements of sleep and obesity. (16

Other researchers have found that sleep quality score and longer sleep duration, as measured by PSQI, are associated with a greater likelihood of successful weight loss. The findings can support the idea that having a shorter sleep is related to obesity. Though the same studies are among the first to suggest sleep characteristics may influence weight-loss success. (17)

For those trying to lose weight, not having enough sleep actually reduces the effectiveness of a weight loss program. The amount of human sleep contributes to the maintenance of fat-free body mass at times of decreased energy intake. Lack of sufficient sleep may compromise the efficacy of typical dietary interventions for weight loss and related metabolic risk reduction. (18)

Many Studies Still Support This Relationship

Findings indicate that overweight or obese pediatric patients are more likely to have sleeping difficulties and that poor sleep has been shown in cross-sectional studies to be related to obesity and in longitudinal studies to predate obesity Obesity, in turn, has been shown to be related to poor sleep, with shorter sleep duration and more disrupted sleep patterns. (19)

A study performed after people who underwent gastric bypass surgery found significant improvements in the quality of sleep and duration of REM sleep. Surgical weight reduction in obesity-related SAS is a valuable therapeutic measure for this respiratory derangement, as well as for sleep quality. (20)

Another study concluded that exercise-induced weight loss improved the quality of sleep in obese elderly women. (21)

The same kind of weight loss is also associated with modest improvements in physical, but not mental, health. (22)

More recently, studies suggest that patterns of sleep, in addition to sleep duration and quality, may be related to weight status and may provide a more comprehensive picture of the relationship between weight and sleep. (23)

Studies That Disagree

Though there are more studies that do tend to establish a correlation, not many directly establish causation. There are a handful that tends to favor causation but only with respect to the quality of sleep is a function of weight loss.

It remains to be demonstrated whether body-weight management and body composition improve during an intervention concomitantly with spontaneous sleep improvement compared with the same intervention without spontaneous sleep improvement. (24)

Another found that sleep quality has a relationship Independent of sleep duration, subjective sleep quality has been evaluated as a predictor of BMI, but not in relation to successful weight loss. So sleep quality affects weight loss work. This means you can now inter methods. (25) Some conclude that it is the other way around, a good sleep is a contributor TO weight loss amongst adult obese women. (26)

Tips for Improving the Quality of Sleep

Regardless of what you believe there are a few things you can do to help improve the quality of your sleep.

  • If you are acutely aware that you have any sleeping disorders, it would be better to find out sooner rather than later. Consult a doctor so that you can get the proper medical advice.
  • For those with Sleep apnea, it may be helpful to seek professional help in getting a CPAP machine, one that will help you breathe better when asleep and help improve nose-breathing as well
  • Keeping a regular schedule is really important, setting these habits for our body to hollow would really help in getting to sleep faster and less fidgeting and procrastinating with our phones while waiting to fall asleep in bed.
  • Avoid ingesting coffee or drinks with caffeine before eating, or overeating right before bedtime, as it affects metabolism, and affects your children’s weight gain.
  • Those who are exercising either to lose weight or build muscle, recognize that sleep is an essential component of the muscle building  and the recovery process, as well as a way for the body to burn calories in order to lose weight, therefore taking steps to ensure consistent sleeping habits may help a lot


In an overweight population who had achieved a clinically significant weight loss, short sleep duration was associated with higher BMI, with similar associations for fat and lean mass. We found no evidence of an association between weight loss history and attained sleep duration. (27)

To sum up, high body weight did coincide with poorer sleep quality, insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea- all sleep disorders that massively affect how restful your sleep can be. Across different age groups, it was reasonable to assume that 

Many studies suggest that a healthier weight would yield better sleep results not just because there are fewer interruptions and longer sleep duration but also because having a lower BMI is not seen as being associated with insomnia, Narcolepsy, and Sleep Apnea.

Losing weight still does bring many benefits other than just for appearance's sake. There are a number of health issues like obesity and diabetes and all of the cardiovascular health issues that come with them as complications.



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