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Sleep, stress reduction may help weight loss
March 29th, 2011
11:00 AM ET

Sleep, stress reduction may help weight loss

Getting enough sleep and reducing stress may help you lose weight more effectively.

Investigators at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research asked almost 500 participants to lose at least 10 pounds during a six-month period and found that those who were getting an ideal amount of sleep – between six and eight hours per night – coming into the study and those who had the least stress were the most successful.

"This study found that in addition to eating better and exercising, sleep and stress play a key role in losing weight," said Dr. Charles Elder, lead study author and an associate investigator at Kaiser.

The participants were asked to attend weekly meetings for weigh-ins and to receive nutrition counseling. They were also asked to increase physical activity levels to 180 minutes per week and keep food journals.

"The take-home message here is that, as clinicians, we need to tell people that if they are able to sleep the right amount and manage their stress, they are likely to be more successful at losing weight," he said.

Elder and his team also looked at the effects depression and "screen time," – or time spent watching TV or on the computer – had on weight loss, but found very little correlation.

Participants who successfully lost more than 10 pounds were invited to join phase two of the study, which looked at finding successful techniques for keeping the weight off. Those results are expected at the end of the year.


soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Sara

    Important news about the importance of sleep and stress. But it seems like they are cherry picking the people who lose weight easily to do further study. They should pick the people who are stressed and can't lose weight. That's where the problem is.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BoSox Fan

      The secondary study is about how to keep lost weight off...thus making sense that they'd take people who had demonstrated weight loss. Why would you pick someone for the study who didn't qualify? You missed the entire point of the second study.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • PennyNot

      @BoSox Fan – A better study would be what it takes to reduce stress and get better sleep. If you are not stressed and can sleep, you don't need the help nearly as much as those with the stress and the inability to get good sleep. Just saying, sleep and reduce stress is like saying avoid tsunami's after earthquakes when you live on the shoreline. It isn't that simple.

      March 29, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • louise jackson

      Are there really people who exist that can't loose weight? I don't think so. Some loose more easily than others, but we all are capable of loosing weight if we try, or if the food/water supply is cut off for whatever reason. Usually we don't stick to the weight lost regimen, and blame the "plan" instead of ourselves.

      March 29, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
    • Hintofgray

      I blame idiots who don't know the difference between "lose" and "loose".

      March 29, 2011 at 21:49 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Since there is no free will there is really no one to blame. Quit blaming the overweight and instead help them. That would truly make the world a better place.

      March 30, 2011 at 20:24 | Report abuse |
  2. KritterKat

    Maybe it's because those who exercise more frequently also usually sleep better and are less stressed because of the stress-relieving hormones exercise releases into the body. Eating/exercising/sleep/stress aren't individual elements in a vacuum – they are all interconnected. The more people exercise the less stressed they are, the less stressed people are the less likely stress eaters (who often become overweight or obese) are going to overeat.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lasciel

      Excellent point! But, I think most people think they need to go to the gym to accomplish that when walking around your block or taking the stairs at work a couple times a week will do.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • PennyNot

      Most over stressed folks who overeat as a result are not stressed by things easily handled by a walk around the block. Long term financial, work, family stress is the factor, not the walk it off kind.

      March 29, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
  3. GoodAdvize

    Here's a great tip to help you fall asleep: play sounds of nature, like a flowing river or rain while going to bed and listen actively and attentively to every nuance and subtlety in such sounds. Natural sounds are flowing, yet very random, so that you can't anticipate any events. Your concentration capacity increases as you try to keep focused on the sounds, thereby releasing other background thoughts that may have been preventing you from falling asleep. You can get such sounds from sites like TranscendentalTones.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jorge

    So, are you telling me that I should shoot my boss and get a bigger, more comfortable bed that I can hide his body under??

    March 29, 2011 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • louise jackson

      No, don't shoot your boss. You need to learn how to successfuly react/respond to people you perceive as difficult. You'll notice that hey might not change, but you will change for the better... start with the man in the mirror.

      March 29, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  5. kate

    I don't think that the article is recommending murder! lol I think we all know that lack of sleep and stress have a negative impact on our mood, health, and just about everything else. more good weight loss tips at http://www.diet-myths.com

    March 29, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Fitand40

    Wanna sleep well??? First turn off the stupid television, put down the nachos and do something that requires you to move... Run a few miles in the evening, ride a bike, swim, left weights or do all the above. You'll sleep like a baby while getting ripped in the process!

    March 29, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hintofgray

      If you have time to do "all of the above", then you must have a very undemanding job. Many people commute an hour home from work, arrive at home at 7 pm, have to make dinner for their families, help their children with homework and get them organized for the next day, and then rise at 6 am and start all over again.

      Consider yourself fortunate if you have the time to "do all of the above". You probably don't suffer from much stress if you have so much free time that you can give such advice.

      March 29, 2011 at 21:47 | Report abuse |
  7. heronhealth

    If turns into a chronic issue then seek help, Acupuncture would be natural, drug-free way of relieving stress and promoting sleep.

    p.s. the more quality sleep you get, the more energy you have the next day – the more energy you have for exercising and loosing weight. http://www.blueheronclinic.com

    March 29, 2011 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 29, 2011 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. R Daly

    It would be interesting to see more details. Why were those with more stress/less sleep less sucessful? Did they eat more or exercise less or both?

    March 30, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Frederica

    We need to walk more, people. Period. And worry over global human slavery and future of our children rather than your weight. Sometimes, people in rich nations are really pathetic. Our grandfathers and fathers did not die in warfields to protect bunch of narcissists.

    March 30, 2011 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. tekwrytr

    The best way to improve sleep is to eliminate caffeine in the afternoon. Coffee in the morning is great, but coffee in the afternoon–or caffeinated sodas or diet sodas–is directly related to problems sleeping. Moreover, the quality of sleep goes up with a reduction in caffeine in the 8-10 hours before sleep. I know a number of people who get revved on caffeine or various "energy drinks" throughout the day, often into late afternoon–then complain because they can't sleep or don't get enough rest when they do sleep at night.

    March 30, 2011 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ziggyzoo

    EAT LESS. Stop with all the studies picking apart the mysteries of weight gain. Portion control!

    March 31, 2011 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.