Health Care

Can You Sleep Your Way to a Healthy Weight?

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Previous research has identified factors including physical activity and weight loss as components for prevention and often treatment of chronic low back pain.1 Despite the fact that body weight and its causal association with low back pain has been studied, additional investigation is still needed. However, those of us afflicted with back pain can attest to its disabling affects on daily activities including exercise and even sleep. The pain experienced often renders us incapable of participating in adequate exercise regiments or restful sleep patterns.

We can all agree that increasing physical activity can play a pivotal role in weight management, but what if sleeping also played a part in promoting a healthy weight? A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses Leptin, an appetite suppressive hormone, and Ghrelin, an appetite stimulant hormone; the hypothesis that hormone changes triggered by insufficient sleep promotes overeating and obesity.2 Another large study concluded that in instances where there is chronic sleep restriction and food readily available, changes in appetite regulatory hormones may contribute to obesity.3

Sleep is overall a powerful element that has the ability to control various aspects of daily living. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 7-9 hours of sleep a night for adults.4 Anything less than 7 hours is considered inadequate. However, the demands on our time often exceed the number of hours in the day. This, of course, leaves us to make the conscious decision to go without sleep in an effort to be available to all of those that depend on us.

Prolonged periods of inadequate sleep can lead to various changes in health status. Common consequences associated with inadequate sleep range from cognitive deviations including lack of concentration and memory loss, to physical complications including fatigue, impaired motor skills, and even weight gain.

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of your day get the better of you. A good diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep will start you on a path to a healthy weight. If you take care of your body it will take care of you.


Wai, E., Rodriguez, S., Dagenais, S., & Hall, H. (2008). Evidenced-informed management of chronic low back pain with physical activity, smoking cessation, and weight loss. The Spine Journal , 8, 195-202.

Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004). Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with reduced Leptin, elevated Gherlin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLOS Medicine , 1 (3), 210-217.

Nedeltcheva, A., Kilkus, J., Imperial, J., Kasza, K., Schoeller, D., & Penev, P. (2009). Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 89, 126-133.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep? (2009). Retrieved May 25, 2011, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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