Less stress and better sleep can help you lose weight
Posted Wednesday, April 6 2011 at 00:00
If you’re looking to lose those extra pounds, you should probably add reducing stress and getting the right amount of sleep to the list, say researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Centre for Health Research in Portland.
In fact, although diet and exercise are the usual prescription for dropping pounds, high stress and too little sleep (or too much of it) can hinder weight loss even when people are on a diet, the researchers report.
“We found that people who got more than six but less than eight hours of sleep, and who reported the lowest levels of stress, had the most success in a weight-loss programme,” said study author Dr. Charles Elder.
Dr Elder speculates if you are sleeping less or more than recommended and if your stress levels are high, you will not be able to focus on making behavioural changes.
These factors may also have a biological impact, he added.
“If you want to lose weight, things that will help you include reducing stress and getting the right amount of sleep,” Elder said.
The report, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, is published in the March 29 online edition of the International Journal of Obesity.
In this two-step trial, 472 obese adults were first counselled about lifestyle changes over a 26-week period.
Recommendations included cutting 500 calories a day, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet approach, and exercising at least three hours a week.
In addition, the researchers asked the participants questions about sleep time, depression, insomnia, screen time and stress.
During this part of the trial, the participants lost an average of almost 14 pounds.
The 60 per cent of the participants who lost at least 10 pounds went on to take part in the next phase of the trial.
Those in the second phase of the trial continued their diet and exercise programme.
Dr Elder’s team found the right amount of sleep and stress reduction at the start of the trial predicted successful weight loss.
Lower stress by itself predicted more weight loss during the first phase of the trial, they added.