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Sleep 6 to 8 hours and lower stress for weight loss

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Eliminating stress, combined with a moderate amount of sleep, is found to be the most likely way to lose weight find researchers. In the two part LIFE study, investigators found clinicians could facilitate weight loss by targeting stress, sleep and depression.

Lower stress and just enough sleep equals more weight loss

A Kaiser Permanente study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found people with lower stress levels who slept more than six hours, but not more than eight were able to lose at least 10 pounds over six months, compared to a control group.

Cut back on activities, find stress reducers to lose weight

Lead author Charles Elder, MD, MPH, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research says, "This study suggests that when people are trying to lose weight, they should try to get the right amount of sleep and reduce their stress.

Some people may just need to cut back on their schedules and get to bed earlier. Others may find that exercise can reduce stress and help them sleep. For some people, mind/body techniques such as meditation also might be helpful."

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Weight loss study shows importance of sleep and stress reduction

The study is divided into two parts. Participants, for the first phase, were asked to lose ten pounds over six months to be considered for the second part of the research. Those that were successful were enrolled in year long second phase study that uses acupressure as a complementary weight loss therapy, the results of which are not yet available.

The study group was asked to document insomnia, how much time they slept, watched TV and used a computer as well as their levels of stress and depression. Weights were obtained at weekly meetings the participants were asked to reduce calorie intake by 500 a day, adopt the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and increase physical exercise to 180 minutes a week.

Sixty percent of those in the study lost at least ten pounds and moved to the second part. The researchers noted those who reported the right amount of sleep – more than six hours and no more than eight – and those with the lowest stress levels were twice as likely to lose weight.

The second phase of the trial that will be available later this year or early 2012 included a control group given standard weight loss therapy and a group taught the Tapas Acupressure Technique that uses a tapping on pressure points on the face and head while thinking about weight loss. Acupressure stimulates the body’s meridian points to relieve stress, eliminate negative emotions and reduce anxiety.

The LIFE study is part of Kaiser Permanente’s research on how to lose and maintain weight loss. The findings from the current study show lowering stress and getting the right amount of sleep, combined with motivation can help people lose weight.

International Journal of Obesity: doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.6
“Impact of sleep, screen time, depression and stress on weight change in the intensive weight loss phase of the LIFE study”
C R Elder, C M Gullion, K L Funk, L L DeBar, N M Lindbergand V J Stevens