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Sleep & Adherence to Diet & Exercise Goals

iStock-495557092Recent preliminary research has shown that individuals with higher scores for sleep health during a 12-month weight loss program were more likely to stick to the calorific and exercise goals in the program in comparison with those who scored lower for sleep health.

Previous research has shown a connection between sleep and weight gain and obesity. One review, for example, showed evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies that points to short sleep duration and poor sleep quality as risk factors for the development of obesity.

Researchers have hypothesized that sleep impacts the body’s relationship with hunger and cravings, metabolism and regulation, and our ability to make healthy choices in general. It is also thought that circadian rhythm misalignment due to insufficient sleep may contribute to the development of obesity. A previous study from the same researchers reported that better sleep health was associated with a significantly greater loss of body weight and fat in participants in a 12-month-long behavioral weight loss program.

However, this new study aimed to examine whether better sleep health was linked with how well people followed the lifestyle modifications prescribed in a 12-month weight loss program. The program examined the behavior and results of 125 adults with an average age of 50 years, who were classed as overweight or obese. The participants had a body mass index of between 27 and 44 and had no medical conditions related to diet or exercise.

A calorie-counting phone app and a device worn on the wrist recorded physical activity, sleep and rest for 7 days at the beginning of the program, halfway through, and at 12 months. Group intervention sessions, patient questionnaires, and sleep diaries also helped the researchers gather data.

While the study did have a limitation due to its size and the fact that it didn’t incorporate interventions to help improve sleep, the results showed that better sleep health was linked to higher rates of attendance to the group session, adherence to caloric intake goals, and improvements in the time spent performing moderate to vigorous exercise. Seven to nine hours of sleep per night were seen to be optimal.

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