Short sleep duration, sleep variability, inhibit weight loss

High sleep variability and short sleep duration blunts weight loss, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity.

As part of the PREDIMED-Plus study, over one year, researchers from the Institut d'Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, monitored 2,000 patients who were overweight or obese and diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. The aim of the study was to compare the changes in weight and body fat measures between participants with short or adequate sleep duration and those with low or high sleep variability.

In a prospective analysis, the research team assessed changes in weight and body fat, including average weight, body mass index, and waist circumference, for community-dwelling subjects with an average age of 65 years, 47 percent of whom were female.

For one year, the patients followed an intensive lifestyle intervention program designed for weight loss based on a low-calorie Mediterranean diet, physical activity, and behavior therapy, according to the study abstract.

The researchers observed the individuals with highly variable sleep patterns, those who did not sleep the same number of hours every night, lost less weight after a follow-up period of 12 months. In addition, a high sleep variability and sleeping less than six hours a day was associated with a lower decrease in body mass index and waist circumference.

Researchers say the results reveal that adopting measures to achieve an appropriate sleep pattern may have an impact on maintaining the correct weight and preventing other metabolic disorders associated with excess body fat.