PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Less sleep and more stress is a common pattern in everyday life.

“Sleep is just something a lot of Americans put on the back burner because we’re so busy with other things,” says Dr. Scott Vargo, a primary care internist at Allegheny General Hospital.

If you’ve tried to get your weight under control, but it’s just not working, try paying more attention to sleep and stress. A study in the “International Journal of Obesity” says these can be predictors of weight loss.

“It’s been known for a long time that sleep deprivation can lead to increased weight, so there are some hormonal changes when people don’t get adequate amounts of sleep,” says Dr. Donald Kushner, an internist and weight loss specialist at St. Clair Hospital’s Wise-About-Weight program.

A Kaiser Permanente study of nearly 500 participants on the west coast shows that losing 10 pounds is more likely with lower stress levels and six to eight hours of sleep a night.

“Lack of sleep will lead to poor selections in food intake,” explains Dr. Vargo, “[and] your ability to have the energy to exercise during the day.”

“The people who work full- time, they have family responsibilities, they’ll say they just can’t do that,” says Dr. Kushner, “but my argument as a physician is in the long run, it’s a short-sighted approach. At some point, something has to be changed.”

The authors point out the people in this study were highly-motivated and almost all of them have attended some college, so these findings may not apply to everyone.

Sometimes poor sleep is a sign of a medical condition like sleep apnea, depression or heart disease. Addressing those problems can lead to better sleep and a healthier weight.

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