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Getting More Sleep May Help New Moms Lose Weight

Posted: July 27, 2009

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In Gunderson's study, the sleep and weight retention patterns of 940 Massachusetts women were analyzed. A year after giving birth, 124 of the women had retained 11 or more of the pounds they had put on during their pregnancy. Short sleep duration was associated with a threefold higher risk of substantial weight retention, when compared with women who got seven hours of sleep. How long a woman breast-fed, however, was not a significant factor.

Dr. Truls Ostbye, a professor and vice chairman of research in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, is currently leading a study designed to promote weight loss in overweight women after childbirth. Preliminary data from that study show that "women who sleep less at six weeks lose less weight from six weeks to 12 months," Ostbye said.

But the relationship between sleep and weight loss isn't that simple. After adjusting for the fact that heavier women lose less weight and sleep less, "the effect of sleep on weight loss nearly goes away," he said. "The relationship between obesity and sleep is there, but it is as likely that less sleep is a result of obesity as the other way around."

Advising women to get more sleep may not get to the root of their sleep-deprivation problem, Reutrakul said, "although stressing the importance of a good night's sleep is a good idea."

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