Less Stress, Less Weight

Getting eight hours of sleep helps you lose weight

(RxWiki News) Losing weight can be very difficult, but researchers have found something that may help you shed those pounds: less stress plus enough sleep equals lower wieght.

In a recent study, Kaiser Permanente researchers found that people were more likely to lose 10 pounds or more if they had lower levels of stress and slept for more than six hours but less than eight hours each night. In other words, people trying to lose weight should get the right amount of sleep and find ways to become less stressed.

dailyRx Insight: Reducing your stress and getting enough sleep can help you lose weight.

Dr. Charles Elder, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon and lead author of the study, suggests that different people may need to find different ways to reduce stress and sleep well. Some people, he says, may simply need to put less on their schedules and go to sleep earlier.

Some may find that getting some exercise will both reduce stress and help them sleep, while others may find that mind-body approaches, like meditation, can work for them.

For their study, Elder and colleagues enlisted 500 participants from Oregon and Washington. The researchers looked at how weight loss was related to sleep, stress, depression, television viewing, and time in front of a computer screen. Patients were advised at weekly meetings to consume 500 calories a day, eat a low-fat and low-sugar diet, engage in physical activity for 180 minutes a week, and keep records of the food they ate each day.

The participants reported on the amount of time they slept, watched television, or used a computer. They also reported on levels of insomnia, stress, and depression. While the researchers found that depression and time in front of a screen did not tell them much about someone's chance of losing weight.

The study's authors add a disclaimer to their findings: on top of being less stressed and getting adequate sleep, those who succeeded in losing weight were very motivated. In addition, almost all of them had attended a college, at least for a period of time.

Obesity has definitively been linked to health complications including stroke, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, all of which burden America with billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs. Also, obesity negatively impacts America's ability to compete in the global market by costing billions of dollars in lost productivity each year.

The Kaiser Permanente study - which was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health - is published in the International Journal of Obesity

Review Date: 
March 29, 2011