Research: Short sleep duration linked to less successful weight loss


Get more sleep and lose more weight! Reported poor sleep duration linked to less successful weight loss attempt.

Sleep as long been linked to obesity. Sleep apnea, central obesity, and insulin resistance is obviously associated with one another. An association between sleep and obesity has been suggested in several studies, but many previous studies relied on self-reported sleep and on BMI as the only measures. No studies to my knowledge have looked at the ending weight and body fat after weight loss and the tie to poor sleep. A relationship between weight loss success and attained sleep duration has not been thoroughly explored.

The study released in early 2020 looked at this very question​[1]​. The study comprised of 1202 participants. The participants were overweight and achieved a weight loss of 5% or more. Information was available on objectively measured sleep duration, adiposity measures and weight loss history. Analyses were conducted with 12-month weight loss, frequency of prior weight loss attempts or average duration of weight maintenance after prior weight loss attempts as predictors of measured sleep duration.

The researchers adjusted the date for physical activity, perceived stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, education, sex and age to eliminate confounding effects. Sleep duration was found to have a association with an increased BMI even after dieting. The highest BMI observed in the group of participants sleeping less than 6 hours per day. The lowest BMI observed among participants sleeping 8 to 9 hours  per day.

The bottom line: If you are having trouble losing weight, consider getting more sleep. Overweight dieters achieved a clinically significant more weight loss when they had more sleep. Short sleep duration was associated with higher BMI which similar associations higher body fat and less lean mass.


  1. [1]
    S. C. Larsen et al., “Association between objectively measured sleep duration, adiposity and weight loss history,” Int J Obes, Jan. 2020, doi: 10.1038/s41366-020-0537-3. [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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