Struggling to stick to diet and exercise plan? Get more sleep

Sticking to a new exercise and diet routine can be tough.

But if you are overhauling your lifestyle at the moment, it's important not to underestimate the power of getting enough sleep.

Following a study of 125 adults considered to be overweight or obese, U.S. researchers reported that the participants who got enough regular, uninterrupted shut-eye did a better job at sticking to their exercise and diet plans while trying to lose weight.

"Focusing on obtaining good sleep - seven to nine hours at night with a regular wake time along with waking refreshed and being alert throughout the day - may be an important behaviour that helps people stick with their physical activity and dietary modification goals," said Dr Christopher E. Kline. "Although we did not intervene on sleep health in this study, these results suggest that optimising sleep may lead to better lifestyle modification adherence."

After adjusting the sleep health scores for age, gender, race and whether or not there was a partner sharing the bed, the researchers discovered that better sleep health was associated with higher rates of attendance at group sessions, adherence to food intake goals, and improvement in levels of physical activity.

"There are over 100 studies linking sleep to weight gain and obesity, but this was a great example showing how sleep isn't just tied to weight itself, it's tied to the things we're doing to help manage our own weight. This could be because sleep impacts the things that drive hunger and cravings, your metabolism and your ability to regulate metabolism and the ability to make healthy choices in general," added Dr Michael A. Grandner. "Studies like this really go to show that all of these things are connected, and sometimes sleep is the thing that we can start taking control over that can help open doors to other avenues of health."

Full study results were presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023.