Sleep Health and Weight Loss: A Key to Successful Cardiovascular Health
A recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh has found a link between improved sleep health and greater adherence to a 12-month weight loss program. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023.
The participants, mostly women of around 50 years of age, and mostly white, were rated “good” or “poor” on six measures of sleep quality: regularity, satisfaction, alertness, timing, efficiency (the percentage of time spent in bed when actually asleep), and duration. For each participant, a sleep health score was calculated on a scale of 0-6, with 1 point being given for each “good” measure. Scores that were higher indicated better sleep health.
The researchers monitored the participants’ attendance at group intervention sessions, adherence to caloric intake, and physical activity levels, and found that those with better sleep health were more likely to attend group sessions and adhere to caloric intake goals. They were also more likely to increase their physical activity levels over time.
Dr. Michael A. Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and co-author of the Association’s Life’s Essential 8 cardiovascular health score, suggested that this could be because sleep impacts factors that drive hunger and cravings, metabolism, and the ability to make healthy choices.
The authors of the study acknowledged certain limitations, like not providing any interventions to help participants get better sleep, and that the overall group of participants had good sleep health to start with. In order to obtain results that are applicable to a wider range of situations, further study is necessary.
Dr. Kline wonders whether clinicians should advise their patients to prioritize obtaining better and more consistent sleep before embarking on a weight loss program or if they should focus on improving sleep quality while simultaneously modifying their diet and activity levels.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get at least seven hours of sleep every night for healthier lifestyle goals. Sleep health is an important component of the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 and improving one’s sleep health is something everyone can do to improve their cardiovascular health. In the United States, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, surpassing all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. This is based on the 2023 Statistical Update from the American Heart Association.
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