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Everyone always tells us that a good sleep will do wonders for our health, which is true! Getting 6-8 hours of high quality sleep a night can help ease and prevent many diseases. Plus, we all know that a good night’s sleep is essential to ensure that your mind and body is prepared to handle all the challenges we face in a day.

But did you know that improving your health can also improve how well you sleep at night? Studies have shown that if you are overweight, especially with extra fat around your belly, then this can seriously affect how well you sleep during the night. The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine conducted research on the link between weight and sleep back in 2012. Here they recruited 77 overweight subjects who had either type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. A lot of these volunteers complained of daytime sleepiness, insomnia and even sleep apnoea.

Overweight MaleThe subjects were then split into two groups with half of the people being put on a special diet and the other half the same diet, but with supervised exercise also. After 6 months it was found that both groups had lost around 15% of their belly fat and lost an average of 15 pounds. Both groups felt that their sleep had improved with the more belly fat being lost linked to the level of improvement in sleep.

So what’s the science behind this? Well researchers haven’t quite figured that out for sure, but what we know is that conditions like sleep apnoea are definitely linked with increased weight. Sleep apnoea occurs when your passageways become blocked either completely or partially while you sleep causing the person to wake. This frequent waking can also cause heart disease, stroke and a high blood pressure. Sleep apnoea can be seriously improved by losing weight, so it makes sense that those who complained about sleep apnoea in the research would see an improvement in sleep quality after reducing weight.

Since all the participants either had type 2 diabetes or were prediabetes, it’s interesting to note that diabetes sufferers tend to suffer from sleep disturbing disorders such as restless leg syndrome. However, as losing weight also gives your body more control over their blood sugar control, it improves diabetic symptoms and thus helps stop the side effects that disturb sleep.

This means that your New Year’s Resolution this January to lose that extra Holiday weight may indeed be the first step you need to start improving how well you sleep at night. Of course, not all of us stick to those resolutions, but setting yourself just a small goal over a long time period will help keep you on track.

Remember, every little helps when it comes to improving your health. Plus, once the weight disappears, you’ll see your sleep improve and thus you’ll have more energy to get to the gym the next day and keep that weight off! 

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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