New research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023 has shown that getting regular, uninterrupted sleep may help us stick to diet and exercise plans when we are trying to lose weight.
The study included 125 adults who met the criteria for overweight or obesity and who were enrolled in a 12-month weight loss program. The sleep habits of the participants were measured at the beginning of the study, at 6 months, and at the end of the study using questionnaires, sleep diaries, and seven-day recordings from wrist-worn devices. These measurements were used to give each participant a score of either “good” or “poor” on six factors that determine sleep health: regularity, timing, satisfaction, duration, efficiency, and alertness. Each participant received a composite score from 0–6, with one point for each “good” measurement. Additionally, each participant’s adherence to the weight loss program was measured throughout the study.
Overall, better sleep scores were correlated with higher rates of attendance at group weight loss sessions, better adherence to caloric intake goals, and improvements in time spent completing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity throughout the program. One of the authors noted that there are over 100 studies linking obesity/weight gain and sleep. This study shows that sleep is not only linked to weight, but also linked to behaviors that may improve weight. Sleep is linked to cravings, metabolism, and decision making, and it is incredibly important for overall health as well as heart health. The AHA includes sleep on its list of eight essential measures for improving and maintaining heart health along with eating a healthy diet and managing a healthy weight.