Study: Weight Cycling Linked to Increased Sleep Problems in Women


most women reported 1 or more episodes of weight cycling, and each additional weight cycling episode was related to shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality.

Weight maintenance may represent an important strategy to promote sleep health, based on a recent study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing which found that a history of weight cycling (HWC) predicted poor sleep among women.1

There has been limited research on the association between HWC and poor sleep patterns, although both of these things together are associated with worse cardiovascular health, according to the study authors.1

"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 stages," said Brooke Aggarwal, EdD, MS, FAHA, of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, in a press release.2

The researchers used the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network cohort at Columbia University to evaluate HWC and sleep patterns at baseline and the prospective associations of HWC from baseline with sleep at the 1-year visit.1

A history of weight-cycling, defined as losing and gaining 10 pounds or more at least once (excluding pregnancy), was self-reported. The team assessed factors such as sleep duration, sleep quality, insomnia severity, and obstructive sleep apnea risk using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Insomnia Severity Index, and Berlin questionnaires. To measure the relation of HWC with sleep, the investigators used linear and logistic regression models, adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, education, health insurance status, pregnancy history, and menopausal status.1

The results showed that most women reported 1 or more episodes of weight cycling, and each additional weight cycling episode was related to shorter sleep duration, poorer sleep quality, longer sleep onset latency, greater insomnia severity, more sleep disturbances, lower sleep efficiency, and higher sleep medication use frequency. Conversely, in the logistic models, HWC was associated with greater odds for short sleep, poor sleep quality, long sleep onset latency, high obstructive sleep apnea risk, and sleep efficiency lower than 85%, according to the press release.1

The research team noted the need for future studies of how body weight changes across the life span may affect sleep in men, women, and across racial or ethnic groups. Before that begins, health care professionals should ask women about their history of weight cycling to identify their risk for sleep problems.2


1. Cao, Vivian MS; Makarem, Nour PhD; Maguire, Moorea MS; et al. History of Weight Cycling Is Prospectively Associated With Shorter and Poorer-Quality Sleep and Higher Sleep Apnea Risk in Diverse US Women, The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing: April 30, 2021 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - doi: 10.1097/JCN.0000000000000818

2. Weight cycling linked to increased sleep problems in women. EurekAlert! Published May 20, 2021. Accessed May 25, 2021.

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