How much of an effect does bad sleep have on a person’s life? Researchers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) attempted to find an answer to this problem in one specific sub-population: the severely obese.

Severe obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 47. While over 30% of the U.S. population is characterized as obese (that is, having a BMI of 30 or higher), only a small percentage of those people are defined as severely, or morbidly, obese. In order to learn more about the impact of sleep for this group, the participants in the AASM study answered questions about sleep disturbance, daytime sleepiness, mood, and quality of life in order to help researchers understand the impact that lack of quality sleep can have on overall quality of life.

Researchers found that sleep quality was significantly associated with quality of life impairment. 

Of the 270 patients in the study, nearly 75% reported poor quality of sleep, as defined as receiving less than six and a half hours a night. 52% of study participants were anxious and another 43% were depressed.

As Dr. G. Neil Thomas, the lead supervisor on the study, reports:

There was a clear association between the sleep problems such as short sleep duration and the psychological disorders and with quality of life. These associations remained significant even after adjusting for a range of potential confounders.

Because there is such a high correlation between poor quality of sleep and poor quality of life, researchers are urging physicians to incorporate sleep screening into their routine screenings for severely obese patients. While a host of other issues may be at play, helping a patient find better sleep habits may produce big results for the patient’s mental well-being. The research authors go so far as to suggest that preventative sleep screening and detection could help prevent later psychological problems for patients with obesity.

How does sleep–or the lack of it–affect your life? 

Image by Michael Cory via Flick


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