Does Losing Weight Affect Sleep?

Losing excess fat around your body leads to a number of health benefits. For those who shed a few extra pounds, they can expect lower blood pressure, less risk of heart disease, improved mobility and reduced pain, a better sex life, improved mood, and, yes, better sleep, just to name a few, according to Piedmont Healthcare.

Someone who is overweight or obese is measured by the person's BMI (Body Mass Index) which is their weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters. If the BMI is higher, it may indicate an excess fat level. A BMI between 25.0 and 30 is considered overweight and a BMI of over 30 is considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those who are overweight or obese are reported to have higher rates of insomnia, trouble sleeping, and increased daytime fatigue compared to people who are not overweight and obese, explains the Sleep Foundation.

Losing weight, especially in the stomach, leads to improved sleep quality

Thankfully, if you have a high BMI and are experiencing insomnia or similar sleep disorders, one solution could be to shed extra pounds. According to a study from Johns Hopkins Medicine, those who lose weight — either through eating healthier or in combination with exercise — significantly improve their quality of sleep.

"We found that improvement in sleep quality was significantly associated with overall weight loss, especially belly fat," says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., the senior author of the study.

The researchers gave participants a sleep score at the beginning of the test based on self-described sleep problems, like sleep apnea and insomnia. Those who lost 15 pounds were reported to improve their sleep score at the end of the study by 20%.

One reason that extra weight causes sleep disorders is because the airway becomes partially or totally blocked. This can lead to sleep apnea and restless sleep, explains Harvard Health. The cycle continues, with lack of sleep being a risk factor for certain conditions, like heart disease and high blood pressure (via Harvard Health).