Losing weight and belly fat improves sleep

Do you have trouble sleeping? If you’re carrying extra pounds, especially around your belly, losing weight and some of that muffin top may help you get better ZZZs. So say researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who presented their findings at this year’s annual meeting of the American Heart Association.

The Hopkins researchers recruited 77 overweight volunteers with either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Many reported sleep problems such as sleep apnea, daytime fatigue, insomnia, and restless or interrupted sleep. Half of the volunteers went on a weight-loss diet with supervised exercise training. The other half did just the diet. After six months, participants in both groups had lost an average of 15 pounds and reduced their belly fat by 15%. Sleep quality improved in both groups. A reduction in belly fat was the best predictor of improved sleep.

The results of this trial are in line with other studies exploring how weight affects sleep and sleep affects weight.

Linking weight loss, belly fat, and sleep

Excess weight and body fat increase the likelihood of developing obstructive sleep apnea. This condition occurs when the airway becomes blocked, either completely or partially, during sleep. These temporary blockages causes frequent awakenings which, in turn, increase the risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.

“So one possibility with the results of this study is that weight loss reduced sleep apnea and improved sleep quality,” says sleep expert Dr. Lawrence Epstein, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. Weight loss also improves blood sugar control which, in people with diabetes or prediabetes, could reduce restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorders, two sleep disorders that people with diabetes are prone to having.

 

Read the complete article @ Harvard Health Blog.

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