Complementary Approaches to Weight Loss: Effects of Adequate Sleep on Weight Loss

The rising obesity epidemic is a high priority public health issue. Among those who are overweight or obese, efforts to simply try to “eat less and exercise more” often lead to disappointing results. A potentially influential factor that may hinder weight loss is inadequate sleep, which is experienced by at least 25% of US adults and has now been strongly linked to weight gain and obesity through both recent epidemiological studies and evidence of mechanistic plausibility.

The aim of this new Weight Loss Study was to investigate whether improvement in sleep quantity and/or quality would increase successful weight loss and weight loss maintenance when added to a traditional weight loss approach of diet and exercise.

Study Design

28 generally healthy overweight or obese adults (BMI between 28 and 40) were enrolled to follow an 8-month weight loss/exercise/behavior modification program. The participants were randomized to follow either a sleep-improvement or attention-control program (consisting of lectures of various health-related topics that did not include weight loss, exercise or sleep).


After 8 months both groups showed a significant weight loss from baseline, 4 kg in the sleep intervention group, and 5 kg in the attention-control group. In addition, the sleep-intervention group showed significant improvements in overall quality and quantity of sleep. However, the difference in weight loss between the two groups was not statistically different.