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Consistent sleep onset and maintenance of body weight after weight loss: An analysis of data from the NoHoW trial

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  • Sofus C Larsen
  • Graham Horgan
  • Marie-Louise K Mikkelsen
  • Antonio L Palmeira
  • Sarah Scott
  • Cristiana Duarte
  • Inês Santos
  • Jorge Encantado
  • Ruairi O'Driscoll
  • Jake Turicchi
  • Joanna Michalowska
  • R James Stubbs
  • Berit L Heitmann
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BACKGROUND: Several studies have suggested that reduced sleep duration and quality are associated with an increased risk of obesity and related metabolic disorders, but the role of sleep in long-term weight loss maintenance (WLM) has not been thoroughly explored using prospective data.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: The present study is an ancillary study based on data collected on participants from the Navigating to a Healthy Weight (NoHoW) trial, for which the aim was to test the efficacy of an evidence-based digital toolkit, targeting self-regulation, motivation, and emotion regulation, on WLM among 1,627 British, Danish, and Portuguese adults. Before enrolment, participants had achieved a weight loss of ≥5% and had a BMI of ≥25 kg/m2 prior to losing weight. Participants were enrolled between March 2017 and March 2018 and followed during the subsequent 12-month period for change in weight (primary trial outcome), body composition, metabolic markers, diet, physical activity, sleep, and psychological mediators/moderators of WLM (secondary trial outcomes). For the present study, a total of 967 NoHoW participants were included, of which 69.6% were women, the mean age was 45.8 years (SD 11.5), the mean baseline BMI was 29.5 kg/m2 (SD 5.1), and the mean weight loss prior to baseline assessments was 11.4 kg (SD 6.4). Objectively measured sleep was collected using the Fitbit Charge 2 (FC2), from which sleep duration, sleep duration variability, sleep onset, and sleep onset variability were assessed across 14 days close to baseline examinations. The primary outcomes were 12-month changes in body weight (BW) and body fat percentage (BF%). The secondary outcomes were 12-month changes in obesity-related metabolic markers (blood pressure, low- and high-density lipoproteins [LDL and HDL], triglycerides [TGs], and glycated haemoglobin [HbA1c]). Analysis of covariance and multivariate linear regressions were conducted with sleep-related variables as explanatory and subsequent changes in BW, BF%, and metabolic markers as response variables. We found no evidence that sleep duration, sleep duration variability, or sleep onset were associated with 12-month weight regain or change in BF%. A higher between-day variability in sleep onset, assessed using the standard deviation across all nights recorded, was associated with weight regain (0.55 kg per hour [95% CI 0.10 to 0.99]; P = 0.016) and an increase in BF% (0.41% per hour [95% CI 0.04 to 0.78]; P = 0.031). Analyses of the secondary outcomes showed that a higher between-day variability in sleep duration was associated with an increase in HbA1c (0.02% per hour [95% CI 0.00 to 0.05]; P = 0.045). Participants with a sleep onset between 19:00 and 22:00 had the greatest reduction in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (P = 0.02) but also the most pronounced increase in TGs (P = 0.03). The main limitation of this study is the observational design. Hence, the observed associations do not necessarily reflect causal effects.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that maintaining a consistent sleep onset is associated with improved WLM and body composition. Sleep onset and variability in sleep duration may be associated with subsequent change in different obesity-related metabolic markers, but due to multiple-testing, the secondary exploratory outcomes should be interpreted cautiously.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial was registered with the ISRCTN registry (ISRCTN88405328).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003168
JournalPLOS Medicine
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)e1003168
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • Adult, Body Composition, Body Weight/physiology, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Sleep/physiology, Time Factors, Weight Loss

ID: 61193191