How I Lost Weight and Gained Sleep |

How I Lost Weight and Gained Sleep

When I started my weight loss journey in 2019, I knew shedding extra pounds would improve my health. What I didn’t expect was the drastic increase in restful, restorative sleep, as well as an overall healthier routine. Getting high-quality sleep has enhanced my life in countless ways. In fact, it’s one of the best benefits of my weight loss – even better than fitting once again into my favorite pair of jeans!

According to Healthline, “... more than one-third of adults in the United States report getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Most people occasionally experience sleeping problems due to stress, hectic schedules, and other outside influences. However, when these issues begin to occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily life, they may indicate a sleeping disorder.”1

Sleep disorders are conditions that affect a person’s ability to sleep well on a continual basis and include sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy. “Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can eventually lead to health consequences that affect your entire body,” reports Healthline.2 The possible ramifications include mood changes, memory issues, difficulty concentrating,  an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as weakened immunity.

If you’re constantly tired, struggling to fall asleep and/or wake for Fajr prayers, snoring loudly or gasping for air during sleep, or experiencing aches and pains that interrupt your night’s rest, you might have a sleep disorder. While being overweight does not cause every single health problem, obesity does often contribute. The good news is that a commitment to weight loss, healthy eating, and a reliable routine can eliminate many of these symptoms, as they did for me.

Related Symptoms

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

Perpetual Fatigue and Mood Swings

When we are not getting restful, uninterrupted sleep, our body and mind suffer greatly. Before I lost weight, I felt tired all day long, even when I woke in the morning. I was often irritable, and minor annoyances were often enough to make me lose my cool. And this is especially challenging as a parent dealing with children all day. Once I was back at a healthy body weight, I routinely woke feeling replenished and energized. My mood improved, and it was easier to be a patient mother and wife.


Most people don’t realize they snore until their loved ones inform them. It can be very difficult for spouses to sleep next to what sounds like a rumbling dragon! Furthermore, snoring can disrupt sleep and might even be a symptom of sleep apnea, a serious medical condition. Once I’d achieved a healthy body weight once again, I started sleeping quietly, which was a relief for me and my health (and undoubtedly for my husband, too)! 

Trouble Waking for Fajr

When you’re sleep deprived, waking for the pre-dawn prayer can seem like an extremely difficult ordeal. Those with insomnia might have just fallen asleep when it’s time to arise and pray. A poor sleep schedule can lead to missing the first prayer of the day, which leaves us unprotected by Allah. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Whoever prays the dawn prayer, then He is under Allah’s protection. So beware, O son of Adam, that Allah doesn’t call you to account for being absent from His protection for any reason.” 


With my new eating and sleeping routine, it has been easy for me to wake for Fajr prayer, Alhamdullilah.

Difficulty Falling Asleep 

Sometimes insomnia is caused by our eating habits. According to Brandon Peters, MD, “As a general rule of thumb, nutritionists will tell you to wait about three hours to sleep after eating. This allows some digestion to occur and gives time for the contents of your stomach to move into your small intestine. Eating also prompts the release of insulin, a hormone that helps it use food for energy. This process can shift your body's sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm). Food can signal wakefulness in your brain and interfere with your ability to fall asleep.”3

Once I started filling my days with exercise, healthy foods, and appropriate meal timing, I was able to fall asleep quickly at night, Alhamdullilah. I realize now that eating heavy foods before bedtime used to sabotage my sleep.

Aches and Pains

When your body is hurting, it can have a negative impact on your sleep. Being overweight can cause strain on your joints. Knee, back, hip, and ankle pain can occur when our body is carrying excess weight. Losing weight often eliminates many aches and pains, and this positively affects our sleep.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

 “Fear Allah, Oh Uthman, for your family has rights over you and your guest has rights over you. Verily, your own self has rights over you, so fast and break your fast, pray and sleep.” 

(Sunan Abu Dawud 1369)

If we look at the life of the Prophet, we will see that he honored his own health and exemplified a balanced lifestyle in which diet and sleep were well-regulated. He always ate in moderation, leaving ⅓ of his stomach for food, ⅓ for liquid, and ⅓ for breath. He also advised going to sleep early in the evening and waking early in the morning.

Our modern lifestyle and/or cultural habits might have derailed our eating and sleeping patterns, but we have the power to realign ourselves. If we want to make restful sleep a priority, we must look at our health holistically, treat our body as a sacred trust, and be mindful of when and what we eat.


1 Sleep Disorders: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments

211 Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body

3Sleeping After Eating: How Long You Should Wait

Laura El Alam is a freelance writer and editor and a first-generation American Muslim. She is the author of over 100 published articles and has written a children’s book, Made From the Same Dough, due to be released in 2023, inshaAllah. A wife and mother of five, Laura lives with her family in Massachusetts. You can visit her online at

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