Research has established that getting the sleep you need each night can help you lose weight, but is the reverse also true? According to a new study, the answer might be yes. The study found that losing 5% of their body weight improved both the quality and quantity of participant’s sleep.
The study involved 390 obese adults who were participating in one of three behavior modification programs to lose weight. The study lasted for 2 years and compared the weight loss results of the three programs. Additionally, the study found that when participants hit the 6 month mark, regardless of how they lost weight, those who lost weight had improvements in both sleep quality and mood.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three programs. The first program provided usual care from the participant’s primary care provider. This meant they were provided with printed materials on a quarterly basis to help educate them on what changes they needed to make to lose weight. The second program provided the same support as the first from the participant’s primary care physician but it also included a limited amount of lifestyle counseling. These participants also met with a lifestyle coach. The third program provided the same support as the second program with more lifestyle counseling and one additional intervention. Some participants who followed the third program used meal replacements while the others took weight loss medications.
Over the course of the 2 year study, the research team tracked changes in each participant’s weight, sleep quality, sleep duration, and mood at two key intervals. The first evaluation was done at 6 months, the second at 24 months. The results of those who lost 5% of their body weight or more were compared to the results of those who lost less than 5% of their body weight no matter which program they followed.
At the 6 month mark, those participants who received some kind of lifestyle counseling lost more weight than those who received no lifestyle counseling. Those who received the enhanced counseling lost almost twice as much as those who only received brief counseling. The group of participants that lost at least 5% of their body weight by the 6 month mark reported getting about 20 minutes more sleep than before they lost the weight. Those who lost less than 5% of their body weight only reported getting about 1 minute of sleep more each night after losing the weight.
Additionally, those participants that lost 5% of their body weight or more also reported improvements in their sleep quality and their mood at the 6 month mark. However, at 24 months only the improvements in mood remained.
This study confirms previous research findings that obese people sleep better when they lose weight. Additional research must now be done to determine if participants regained their weight resulting in the loss of positive results or if there is some other reason that the positive results seen as 6 months did not continue to the 24 month mark.
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