Researchers in Spain have concluded that having inconsistent sleeping habits or sleeping less than six hours a night can have a negative effect on weight loss. This held true even with an intensive structured program in place to help. The investigators followed 1,986 adults whose average age was 65 who were taking part in a regimented weight loss study. All the participants were overweight or obese and had metabolic syndrome, a collection of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. For a year, the participants followed an intensive weight loss program including a low-calorie version of the Mediterranean diet, physical activity and behavioral therapy. The researchers reported that the participants whose sleep patterns were irregular at the beginning of the study (they didn’t sleep the same number of hours every night) as well as those who slept less than six hours a night had less of a decrease in body mass index and waist circumference than participants who slept consistently and sufficiently. The study was the first to examine whether the quality of sleep is related to weight loss.
My take? We’ve long known that poor sleep is associated with obesity. Research suggests that appetite-regulating hormones are affected by sleep and that sleep deprivation could lead to weight gain. In two studies, people who slept five hours or less per night had higher levels of ghrelin – a hormone that stimulates hunger – and lower levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin than those who slept eight hours per night. If you’re serious about weight loss, make sure you’re getting adequate sleep.
Christopher Papandreou et al, “High sleep variability predicts a blunted weight loss response and short sleep duration a reduced decrease in waist circumference in the PREDIMED-Plus Trial,” International Journal of Obesity, June 19, 2019, nature/articles/s41366-019-0401-5
More from this week’s bulletin:
Sign up for Dr. Weil’s Newsletters
Read more: drweil.com