Obese people who sleep poorly are also likely to suffer from anxiety or depression and have
a lower quality of life, University of Birmingham researchers have found.

In the study, published in the journal Sleep, patients with an average body mass index (BMI) of 47 were enrolled with a specialist weight management service; almost three quarters (74.8%) were poor sleepers, with over half (52%) showing signs of anxiety and 43% were depressed.

The study authors showed that sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were significantly associated with and impact on mood and quality of life among obese patients.

The authors recommend that obese people are screened for sleep problems such as disturbed sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness, as improving sleep quality could potentially prevent obesity from worsening and stop people from developing psychological conditions.

‘Despite the very high levels of problems in these patients, those involved with their care usually do not ask about sleep problems and often pay little heed to the psychological issues underlying the obesity. The focus is often on treating the obesity and its consequences, such as diet and exercise interventions, rather than addressing its underlying cause,’ said author Dr Neil Thomas, reader in epidemiology, School of Health and Population Sciences, University of Birmingham.

The study involved 270 patients with a mean age of 43 years. Sleep disturbance, daytime sleepiness, mood and quality of life were assessed using standardised questionnaires.