New research finds that not getting enough good quality sleep undermines an individual’s attempts to keep weight off after dieting. The good news is that about 2 hours of vigorous physical activity per week can help promote better sleep.

“It was surprising to see how losing weight in adults with obesity improved sleep duration and quality in such a short time, and how exercising while attempting to keep the weight off preserved improvements in sleep quality”, says author and medical student Adrian F. Bogh. “Also, it was intriguing that adults who aren’t sleeping enough or getting poor quality sleep after weight loss appear less successful at maintaining weight loss than those with sufficient sleep.”

Utilizing data from the S-LiTE randomized placebo-controlled trial, the researchers evaluated data from 195 obese adults (BMI 32 to 43 kg/m2) who lost 12% of their body weight. Participants were then randomly assigned to a 1-year weight loss maintenance program with either: 1) placebo, 2) exercise + placebo, 3) liraglutide 3.0 mg/day, or 4) exercise + liraglutide treatment. Their sleep duration and efficiency were measured using accelerometers before the low-calorie diet (screening), after the low-calorie diet (baseline), and after 26 and 52 weeks. Their sleep quality was subjectively measured with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) at screening, baseline, and end of the study yielding a global score between 0-21. A global score of ≥5 correlated with being a poor sleeper and a global score of <5 correlated with being a good sleeper.

The researchers found that after the 8-week low-calorie diet, the sleep quality and sleep duration improved in all participants. After one year of weight maintenance, participants in the exercise groups maintained self-reported sleep quality improvements achieved from the low-calorie diet, while non-exercise groups relapsed. Liraglutide treatment had no significant effect on any sleep quality or duration compared to placebo. The data also showed that participants who slept on average less than 6 hours per night at the start of the study increased their BMI by 1.3 kg/m2 during the 1-year weight maintenance phase compared to those who slept more than 6 hours per night.

“The fact that sleep health was so strongly related to weight loss maintenance is important since many of us don’t get the recommended amount of sleep needed for optimal health and functioning,” says Professor Signe S. Torekov. “Future research examining possible ways of improving sleep in adults with obesity will be an important next step to limit weight regain. Weight loss maintained with exercise seems promising in improving sleep”

The authors note that the study is observational and cannot prove that poor sleep causes weight changes, but suggests that it is likely to contribute.

The study was presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Maastricht, Netherlands (4-7 May). The authors included: A Bogh, S Jensen, C Juhl, C Janus, R Christensen, J Lundgren, B Stallknecht, J Holst, S Madsbad, and S Torekov,

For the full abstract here

For the full poster click here



Photo by Ketut Subiyanto