Weight loss improves sleep, mood

Monday , August 04, 2014 - 10:33 AM

Woman sleeping

Getty Images/Creatas RF

Woman sleeping

Standard-Examiner staff

CHICAGO — People who lose a little extra weight may find themselves sleeping better at night.

A two-year study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania found obese individuals who lost 5 percent of their body weight reported improved sleep quality and a better mood.

The 390 study participants were randomly assigned to one of three behavioral interventions which are commonly used to help individuals reach their weight loss goals. According to the press release published by the Endocrine Society on June 24, these groups consisted of: usual care, where participants received printed educational materials during quarterly visits with their primary care provider; brief lifestyle counseling, including quarterly visits with their care provider combined with brief meetings with lifestyle coaches; or enhanced brief lifestyle counseling, with meal replacements or weight loss medications added to the second intervention.

Participants were examined for changes in sleep quality and mood after six months, then 24 months of the study. After six months, participants in lifestyle counseling groups lost more weight than those receiving the standard care; those on the brief lifestyle counseling plan lost an average of 7.8 pounds and those receiving enhanced lifestyle counseling lost 14.7 pounds on average. 

When all three groups were examined together, those who lost five percent of their body weight at month six gained an average of 21.6 minutes of sleep per night and reported improvements on their sleep quality and mood, regardless of what treatment group they were assigned.

"This study confirms several studies reporting that weight loss is associated with increased sleep duration," stated the study's lead investigator, Nasreen Alfaris, fellow in the Department of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in the press release. 

As Alfaris stated in the release, mood improvements were only statistically significant after 24 months, and more research is needed to examine the effects of gaining weight back and sleep deprivation.

“Further studies are needed to examine the potential effects of weight regain in diminishing the short-term improvements of weight loss on sleep duration and sleep quality.”