Stifling a yawn, I splashed cold water on my face. No matter how early I went to bed, I felt exhausted, and I struggled to keep my eyes open at work. And it wasn’t just me feeling sleep deprived – my family were tired too, thanks to my constant snoring. Despite trying a number of weird and wacky ‘stop snoring’ gadgets that I found online, it was so bad that my wife, Marjorie, banished me to the spare room.
Disturbed nights led to days spent in a fog of tiredness, and I’d even fallen asleep while pouring myself a drink, coming round on the kitchen floor. I was terrified of falling asleep while driving, and there were times when I put myself and my family in danger.
Sometimes, when driving, I’d suddenly hear Marjorie shouting, ‘Dave, wake up!’ from the passenger seat.
This spurred me on to ask my doctor for advice on how to stop snoring. He matched my symptoms to sleep apnoea, a condition which causes you to stop breathing while sleeping. I wasn’t surprised when he said that my weight was a key factor. At 22st 3½Ibs, I knew that I was far from a healthy weight, but I’d never considered that my snoring was a symptom of something potentially life-threatening.
I also had dangerously high blood pressure, was on the verge of being diabetic, and suffered from chest pains and palpitations. And I was so tired at work that I worried about losing my job. Being overweight had become dangerous on so many levels that I urgently needed to take action.
Snacking was a big issue for me, and I could get through three packets of crisps, four chocolate bars, half a packet of biscuits and a Scotch egg in a day. This was in addition to a greasy fry-up or a big bowl of cereal for breakfast, a chicken tikka baguette for lunch, and fried burgers with a whole trayful of oven chips, plus bread and butter, for dinner.
I had tried to lose weight previously, turning to ineffective fad diets and diet pills. I’d also tried to tackle my weight through exercise, but I just couldn’t find the energy. Joining my local Slimming World group helped me to break that negative cycle. With the support of the group, I swapped chocolate bars and crisps for healthy snacks like fruit and yogurt, enjoying two Jaffa cakes when I fancied a sweet treat. I also filled up on overnight oats for breakfast, tucked into big, healthy chicken or salmon salads for lunch, and started trying out Slimming World recipes for dinner – I love spicy casserole recipes like Paprika pork and Caribbean pepperpot stew.
Within three months I’d lost 3st 7lbs and, for the first time in a long time, I was waking up feeling refreshed!
As the stones came off, the milestone awards from group kept me motivated. I was getting more sleep and weight loss became even easier as I finally had the energy to get stuck into some brilliant weight loss-boosting Body Magic activity. I started with aiming to walk 12,000 steps a day, then I completed the NHS Couch to 5K running programme. I’ve gone from struggling to tie my own shoelaces to completing a weekly 5K Parkrun, several obstacle courses, a half-marathon and a triathlon!
Eighteen months after joining Slimming World, I’ve lost 9st 4Ibs and no longer get any sleep apnoea symptoms – I’ve finally managed to stop snoring! I’ve swapped my XXXXL clothing for a whole new wardrobe (buying my first pair of Levi 501 jeans was a big moment!), I lead a super active lifestyle, have had a promotion at work and, best of all, I’m no longer banished to the spare room. Thanks to Slimming World, I’ve stopped sleepwalking through life and started really living!
When we’re tired it can be difficult to find the energy to eat well and get active, so good-quality sleep and weight loss definitely go hand in hand. Here are our top tips for making slimming-friendly choices after a disturbed night.
1. Fill up on fibre
For sustained energy, think fibre! Dave starts his days with a bowl of tasty overnight oats. Wholemeal toast (your Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice) is another good option.
2. Stock up on healthy snacks
Swap biscuits, chocolate bars and crisps for healthy snacks and see your energy levels soar! Try our Roasted red pepper falafels, or bake the classic Slimming World Weetabix cake to see you through the week.
3. Fill the freezer
A stash of your favourite freezable Slimming World dishes is a lifesaver when you feel too tired to cook. Dave loves our spicy casserole recipes – the Moroccan meatball stew and warming Beef casserole recipes make great no-fuss freezer meals.
4. Get moving
A 10-minute burst of Body Magic activity can give you a great energy boost. A brisk walk in the fresh air will leave you feeling wide awake!
5. Find your motivation
Dave found the weekly support at his Slimming World group invaluable, and also enjoys setting himself regular exercise challenges.
If you snore or gasp during the night, wake regularly or appear to sleep through but feel exhausted during the day, talk to your GP about sleep apnoea. You’ll find information on how to stop snoring on the NHS Live Well website.
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.