According to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, the official journal of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, women who have a history of weight cycling, losing and gaining 10 pounds or more than once have higher rates of insomnia and other sleep issues.
Dr. Brooke Aggarwal, EdD, MS, FAHA, of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, and colleagues remarked that “history of weight cycling was prospectively associated with several measures of poor sleep, including short sleep duration, worse sleep quality, greater insomnia, greater sleep disturbances, and greater daytime dysfunction among diverse US women across various life stage.”
The researchers analyzed data of 506 women, with an average age of 37, who were part of the American Heart Association’s ongoing “Go Red for Women” research project.
Weight cycling, which is described as losing or gaining at least 10 pounds, was reported by 72 percent of the women (excluding pregnancy). Both at the time of study entry and a one-year follow-up visit, the history of weight cycling was tested for correlations with a wide variety of sleep issues. Other factors known to impact women’s weight history, such as pregnancy history and menopausal status, were taken into account in the studies.
Women with a history of weight cycling were more likely to have sleep problems at both times. Shorter sleep time, poorer sleep quality, a longer time to fall asleep, more extreme insomnia, more sleep disturbances, less effective sleep, and more frequent use of sleep drugs were all linked to each additional episode of weight cycling.
At follow-up, a history of weight cycling predicted an increased risk of sleep problems. After adjusting for other factors, women who had even one episode of weight cycling were more likely to have shorter sleep duration (less than seven hours), poorer sleep quality and efficiency ratings, and take longer to fall asleep (about half an hour or more).
Women who had weight cycling episodes were five times more likely to be in the high-risk category for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During sleep, patients with OSA experience breathing interruptions or other abnormalities.
Obesity or being overweight is a recognized risk factor for sleeping problems. Dr. Aggarwal and colleagues found that women with a history of weight cycling had an elevated risk of poor cardiovascular health in previous studies in Columbia University’s “Go Red for Women” research cohort. Weight cycling and sleep issues may have a “bidirectional” relationship, reflecting the “intricate interplay ” between sleep and weight loss or maintenance.
The findings also indicate that maintaining a consistent body weight over time can help you sleep better. “Future research can potentially inform more targeted weight maintenance interventions for sleep health and cardiovascular health promotion,” Dr. Aggarwal and co-authors concluded.