Losing Weight for Better Sleep

Weight loss associated with improved sleep and overall mood

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Being overweight can have a wide range of effects on people's overall health, both mental and physical. And numerous studies have shown that increased weight is associated with a decrease in sleep at night.

And now, new research suggests that slimming down can have a positive impact on not only sleep, but also overall mood.

The study found that people who lost 5 percent or more of body weight after a six month weight loss program felt better and slept longer than their counterparts who lost less than 5 percent of body weight.

"Talk to your doctor about exercise, healthy diet and managing weight."

Nasreen Alfaris, MD, MPH, a fellow in the department of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, led this research.

The study drew 390 participants from the Practiced-Based Opportunities for Weight Reduction at the University of Pennsylvania (POWER-UP) two-year trial.

The 311 women and 79 men were randomly assigned to one of three weight loss programs with the same diet and exercise goals but different levels of support.

One group received printed material about diet and exercise during quarterly doctor visits; one group received short counseling sessions and meetings with lifestyle coaches four times a year; and the third group received more extensive lifestyle counseling plus meal replacements and weight loss medications.

Dr. Alfaris and team measured changes in weight, sleep duration and quality and mood. That was done at six months after initial treatment and again at 24 months after treatment.

The researchers compared, regardless of group, the participants who lost 5 percent or more of original body weight with the participants who lost less than 5 percent of initial body weight.

At six months, the participants who received only printed materials lost an average of 4.4 pounds, the group with brief counseling lost an average of 7.8 pounds, and the participants in the third group with the more extensive counseling and medications lost an average of 14.7 pounds.

Participants who lost at least 5 percent of their weight after six months reported sleeping more than 20 minutes longer each night, compared with only 1.2 minutes longer reported by the group that lost less than 5 percent.

Similarly, the group that lost more than 5 percent of body weight after six months reported improvement in mood at a higher rate than the group who lost less than 5 percent body weight.

“This study confirms several studies reporting that weight loss is associated with increased sleep duration,” Dr. Alfaris said in a prepared statement.

"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," Dr. Alfaris said.

The study findings were presented July 24 in Chicago at a joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

Review Date: 
June 26, 2014
Last Updated:
June 27, 2014