How Can Heavy People Have Healthier Sleep?

words Alexa Wang

Healthier Sleep

Healthy sleep is something most of us lack these days.

And unfortunately, heavier individuals are more likely to experience poorer sleep. The thing is, excess weight can lead to a number of sleep-related issues, including sleep apnea, disrupted sleep, night sweats, hypoventilation, and more.

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate these issues and start sleeping better with a higher body mass index. So, here are a few examples of the tips that might help heavier people have healthier sleep.

Tip 1: Reconsider the Mattress

One of the most important factors responsible for the quality of sleep is the mattress. It affects so many aspects, including comfort, spinal health, and thermoregulation.

For heavier individuals, a good mattress has to possess a number of specific characteristics. That’s why picking one can often seem challenging. It has to be durable, supportive, and sturdy (among other things). Luckily, there’s a good source to turn to when trying to find the best mattress for heavier individuals. SleepingOcean has done an extensive research to prepare the list of the top mattresses suited for heavy sleepers, which should help to choose the ideal mattress.

The thing is, sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause all kinds of unpleasant symptoms. For instance, when the mattress is not supportive enough, it fails to keep the spine properly aligned during the night. As a result, this often leads to strain and tension build-up in some of its areas. And that’s why people who use unsuitable mattresses often wake up with back pain and headaches.

At the same time, if the mattress is too stiff, it will put too much pressure on the sleeper’s protruding body parts. This can cause sharp pressure points, stiff joints, and pain.

A good mattress for heavier individuals should also be cooling. After all, having to deal with night sweats can significantly decrease one’s sleep quality. In this case, heavier folks are often advised to pick hybrid or latex mattresses. Hybrid models are breathable and rarely sleep hot. As for latex, this material is not likely to trap body heat and should be able to create a temperature-neutral environment. For memory foam fans, it might be a good idea to choose mattresses that use gel particles to aid thermoregulation. Open-cell models might also do the trick as they are more breathable than regular foam mattresses.

Tip 2: Get a Proper Base for the Mattress

For heavier users, the bed frame is just as important. The mattress foundation contributes greatly to the overall support, so it has to be extra-sturdy and reliable. 

If there are slats, they should not be spaced too far from each other. Otherwise, the mattress may develop soft spots and thus, won’t be able to deliver proper support for restful sleep and a healthy back.

Now, most heavy users prefer solid wood beds. Metal is also a rather reliable option if the metal bars are thick enough.

For larger individuals, a good bed frame has to have extra legs and a support beam in the middle. This would help achieve sturdier support and longer-lasting performance.

Tip 3: Maintain Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Heavier folks often face such sleep issues as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and frequent disturbances. And tackling those core issues should be the number one priority (which you should discuss with your doctor).

But maintaining healthy sleep hygiene can boost whatever treatment the doctor recommends. After all, healthy sleep habits can help make one’s rest more restorative.

Now, sticking to proper sleep hygiene may involve the following steps:

  • going to bed and waking up at consistent hours every day (even during weekends);
  • avoiding caffeine in the second half of the day;
  • keeping one’s naps short (around 20 minutes) and before 3 pm;
  • avoiding alcohol before bed;
  • ditching screens at least one hour before bed;
  • getting enough sunlight exposure during the day;
  • dimming the artificial lights in the evening.

Tip 4: Find the Best Sleeping Style

A suitable sleeping position can deal with two things at once. It can help make the sleeper feel more comfortable and might also alleviate some of the symptoms of their current sleep issues.

For instance, heavier individuals are more prone to developing sleep apnea. And this condition is usually characterized by loud snoring. Sleeping in an elevated position or on one side may help reduce snoring and mitigate sleep apnea symptoms at least to some extent (which, ideally, means fewer disruptions during the night).

Now, there are a couple of tricks one might use to find the most comfortable sleep position. The first one is propping yourself with pillows. For example, using a wedge pillow can help keep one’s head elevated and reduce snoring. 

Getting an adjustable bed frame is a much more expensive option, but it’s also more effective. Combined with a good mattress, an adjustable frame can offer countless comfort variations. Heavier sleepers might especially enjoy the Zero Gravity mode. It works to ensure there’s zero pressure in one’s body. This may come in handy for those sleepers who experience back strain or too much pressure in certain sections of the spine due to excess weight.

When sleeping on one side, it wouldn’t hurt to add a pillow between the knees. This would help align the hips. To avoid straining one’s shoulder, it also might be a good idea to hug another pillow.

Now, there are also special full-body pillows that are ideal for side sleepers. They can offer proper support for the whole body, including knees and arms (as they are pretty long to be used between the knees and can be hugged at the same time).

Tip 5: Keep a Healthy Diet

Sticking to a healthy diet can have countless benefits. And some of them involve sleep, of course.

Research suggests that losing weight (and belly fat in particular) can lead to improved sleep quality. And controlling one’s nutrition is one of the most effective tools when it comes to weight management.

Now, this doesn’t mean that heavier sleepers have to starve themselves or live on 1,200 calories a day. A healthy diet means balancing the nutrients (proteins, fat, and carbs) and keeping one’s food diverse and rich in vitamins.

It’s a good habit to add a handful of vegetables to every meal. Substituting sugary sweets with fruits might also be helpful, but it doesn’t mean that it’s absolutely necessary to give up sugar. The trick is to control the intake and not eat too much of it.

It’s also crucial to include healthy fats in one’s diet (such as nuts, fatty fish, avocados, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, dark chocolate, etc.)

Tip 6: Try to Stay Active

Regular exercise and good sleep quality go hand in hand. So, staying active is extremely important for those heavier folks who want to start sleeping better. However, there are a couple of rules to follow.

The main one is: timing the workouts right. It’s better to finish the workout at least one hour before one’s supposed bedtime. Most experts also agree that it might be a good idea to reserve intense workout sessions for mornings and afternoons.

But here’s the deal:

It does not necessarily have to be a whole workout routine. Even taking regular walks in the fresh air can help overweight individuals start sleeping better.

Tip 7: Keep the Bedroom Cool

The body regulates its temperature throughout the day. When it’s time to fall asleep, the body gradually drops its core temperature, which is one of the cues for rest. 

By keeping the bedroom comfortably cool (around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit), sleepers can help their body drop its core temperature faster and thus, fall asleep faster.

If there’s no way to adjust the thermostat, picking proper sleep accessories might help do the trick. For example, adding a cooling topper on top of one’s mattress can help create a more favorable environment for healthy sleep. 

Wearing loose, breathable pajamas may also aid thermoregulation during the night. In this case, it’s better to choose natural fabrics such as linen, cotton, rayon, bamboo, Tencel, etc.

Sleeping naked is another little trick that may help keep sleepers comfortably cool. Plus, research also shows that ditching one’s pajamas often helps improve body image and self-esteem.

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