Sleep is an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to a recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023, regular and uninterrupted sleep is crucial for achieving successful weight loss.
The study suggests that individuals who get enough sleep and wake up refreshed are more likely to adhere to their physical activity and dietary modification goals.
Sleep and Weight Loss:
Dr. Christopher E. Kline, an associate professor in the department of health and human development at the University of Pittsburgh, led the study. His team examined the relationship between sleep health and adherence to lifestyle modifications prescribed in a 12-month weight loss program. The study included 125 adults (average age of 50 years, 91% female, 81% white) who met the criteria for overweight or obesity (body mass index of 27-44) without any medical conditions requiring medical supervision of their diet or physical activity.
The participants’ sleep habits were measured at the beginning of the program, at six months, and at 12 months, through patient questionnaires, a sleep diary, and a wrist-worn device that recorded sleep, waking activity, and rest for seven days. These measures were used to score each participant as “good” or “poor” on six measures of sleep: regularity, satisfaction, alertness, timing, efficiency, and duration. A composite sleep health score of 0-6 was calculated for each participant, with one point for each “good” measure of sleep health, with higher scores indicating better levels of sleep health.
The researchers found that participants who reported getting regular, uninterrupted sleep did a better job sticking to their exercise and diet plans. The participants with higher sleep health scores had higher rates of attendance at group interval sessions, adherence to caloric intake goals, and improvement in time spent performing moderate-vigorous physical activity.
Results of the Study
The study’s results showed that participants attended 79% of group sessions in the first six months and 62% of group sessions in the second six months. The decrease in group session attendance, caloric intake, and time spent in moderate-vigorous activity in the second six months was expected. According to Dr. Kline, “As one continues in a long-term behavioral weight loss intervention, it’s normal for the adherence to weight loss behaviors to decrease.”
Moreover, the participants met their daily caloric intake goals on 36% of days in the first six months and 21% in the second six months. However, they increased their total daily time spent in moderate-vigorous activity by 8.7 minutes in the first six months, but their total time spent decreased by 3.7 minutes in the second six months.
Although the study showed an association between better sleep health scores and an increase in physical activity, the association was not strong enough to be statistically significant. The researchers suggested that optimizing sleep may lead to better lifestyle modification adherence.
Limitations of the Study:
The study’s limitations include that it did not incorporate any intervention to help participants improve their sleep. The sample was also primarily white and female, so it is unclear whether these results are generalizable to more diverse populations. Another limitation is that the study sample was not recruited based on participants’ sleep health characteristics, and the overall sample population had relatively good sleep health at baseline.
This preliminary research indicates that good sleep health may be an important factor in achieving weight loss goals. It is essential to focus on obtaining regular, uninterrupted sleep to achieve physical activity and dietary modification goals. This study opens up a new perspective on weight loss and provides insight into the importance of good sleep health in achieving healthy weight loss.