Different people have different motivations for making the decision to lose weight.
Some common motivators are wanting to look better, fitting into favorite clothing, being able to keep up with their family members’ high energy levels, and just wanting to be healthier overall.
Along with these factors, new research states that you can add two more benefits of shedding those extra pounds to your list: improved state of mind and better sleep.
A new study, led by Dr. Nasreen Alfaris of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, found that obese adults who were able to lose five percent of their body weight or more enjoyed better sleep quality and duration, as well as less symptoms of depression, than their peers who lost less than five percent of their weight, or none at all.
Dr. Alfaris and her research team worked with 390 obese adults (311 of whom were women) for a period of two years. The volunteers were split into three groups and either assigned to “usual care,” in which they simply received printed information about weight loss, a group that met with “lifestyle coaches” and received “lifestyle counseling,” or a group that had more intense intervention and coaching by medical professionals.
Not surprisingly, the group that received the most “hands-on” treatment by professionals lost the most weight. However, the researchers found that no matter which group they were assigned to, after six months, the volunteers that lost five percent or more of their weight slept an average of 21.6 minutes longer each night, reported better sleep quality, improved mood, and less feelings of depression.
According to Dr. Alfaris, “this study confirms several studies reporting that weight loss is associated with increased sleep duration.”
While this study examined the result of weight loss on sleep quality, the inverse – that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain – is well established. Individuals who are sleep-deprived are less likely to exercise, and more likely to reach for junk food or processed meals instead of preparing healthy foods. Dr. Michael Breus, author of Beauty Sleep, states, “it’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep deprived… your metabolism will not function properly.”
Dr. Breus explains that not getting enough hours of quality sleep at night can result in a slower metabolism. This combined with being too tired to exercise or cook a nutritious meal can quickly wreak havoc. Dr. Susan Zafarlotfi of the University Medical Center in New Jersey adds, “when you have sleep deprivation and are running on low energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods.”
Losing those extra pounds, as we all know, may significantly decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes and many other chronic illnesses. Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is linked to improved immune system function, lower stress levels and a better overall quality of life. It has also been associated with brain detoxification and the potential to reduce your risk of a number of neurological issues.
All in all, if you want to enjoy better health, and get a boost to your weight loss efforts, make quality sleep a top priority. According to the new University of Pennsylvania study, you may be rewarded with naturally sleeping better, and feeling better, once you make some progress in your goal.
-The Alternative Daily