Check out these five surprising ways losing weight can improve your relationship:
1. Better Sleep—For Both of You
Anyone who has ever shared a mattress knows it isn’t always the sweet slumber romantic comedies make it out to be. Between the struggle for the cover, the wayward limbs and the annoyance of multiple alarm clocks, for many couples sharing a bed can be a bit of a nightmare. But perhaps the worst bedtime blunder any snuggle-buddy can make is to snore. According to data from the Mayo Clinic, people who sleep with snorers wake up, at least partially, an average of 21 times an hour—almost as often as the snorers themselves. Researchers have also reported that people who sleep with snorers have more complaints of pain, increased levels of fatigue, and may even be at risk for hearing loss. In a 2005 study published in the journal Chest, a third of bed partners reported relationship problems as a result of snoring,likely because the lack of sleep can cause frustration, resentment and, in some cases, decreased intimacy—especially when separate bedrooms become the solution.
The good news is, whether it’s you or your spouse that’s guilty of this night-time crime, there is still hope for sound slumbers. In a 2003 study published in Chest, doctors from the Mayo Clinic evaluated the spouses of more than 50 patients with sleep apnea (a condition in which breathing involuntarily stops and starts while a person is sleeping), which often leads to snoring. Once the patients’ sleep apnea and snoring were treated, their spouses’ sleepiness scores improved by 20 percent. Even more impressive? The spouses’ quality-of-life scores increased even more than those who received the treatment!
For those who suffer from sleep apnea, losing just 10 percent of body weight can drastically reduce symptoms like snoring. And in some cases, losing a significant amount of weight can even cure the condition. Even for snorers who don’t suffer from sleep apnea, weight loss can bring similar benefits. These findings suggest that snorers who lose weight can be to thank for more sound sleep—and happier relationships!
2. Better Date Nights
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology demonstrated that after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner. Since carrying excess poundage prevents many people from getting as active as they’d like, losing weight could be the difference between yet another boring movie night in and a thrilling night of tango lessons, bowling or rock climbing—a recipe for relationship success.
3. Happier Home-Life
Whether obesity leads to depression or depression leads to obesity is unclear. But one thing remains undisputed: there is a relationship between the two. In fact, a study published in 2010 in the Archives of General Psychiatry revealed that obese individuals have a 55 percent higher risk of developing depression over time compared with those of normal weight. Other studies have demonstrated that individuals who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience anxiety, panic and mood disorders. If your weight is causing you to feel down and out, chances are good that your home-life is far from a fairy-tale.Worse, your mood may start rubbing off on your partner, making for a doubly depressing household. While the findings regarding weight loss and mood are mixed, if losing weight makes you feel better, go for it! Your spouse will thank you.
In a study published in 2008 in the International Journal of Obesity, not only did study participants benefit from a healthy lifestyle intervention—their spouses did as well. That’s right: 26 percent of study participants’ spouses lost more than 5 percent of their body weight, compared to just 9 percent of non-study spouses. The spouses of study participants also experienced greater reductions in reported caloric intake and fat intake, suggesting that when one partner makes moves to lose weight and get healthier, his/her spouse can benefit as well! Further support of this phenomena? A Brigham Young University study of nearly 5,000 married couples revealed that men in excellent health tended to have wives who were also healthy, and a University of Pittsburgh study found that highly active men were three times more likely to have highly active wives. Bonus: Researchers at the University of Penn found that couples who exercise together often experience better weight loss results. Do we see a gym date in your future?
5. More Time for Fun
You’ve likely heard by now that being overweight or obese is a risk factor for a number of conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, gallstones, metabolic syndrome—the list goes on. And as we know, these conditions require medical care—which means more time spent in the doctor’s office. Indeed, in a review included in the International Journal of Obesity in 2009, researchers found that overweight subjects were more prone to take longer spells of sick leave (more than 7 days) from work than their thinner coworkers. Researchers also found that obese subjects were more likely to take long-term sick leave. These findings suggest that individuals who are overweight or obese may be getting sicker than their slimmer counterparts. Imagine if you didn’t have to spend as much time at the doctor’s office, in line at the pharmacy, or sick on your couch. That’s a lot more cuddle time with your companion!