Is Your Lack of Sleep Contributing To Your Weight Gain & Depression

by Amy Morris

A new study has presented findings showing that the root cause of obesity may be caused initially by a person’s poor state of mental health, which can result from a lack of sleep.

Study finds many who are obese are also depressed

The study was carried out by the Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom involving 270 patients with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 47 kg/m2 that were enrolled in a regional specialist weight management service. The mean age of the participants was 43 years, and all the participants were given standardized questionnaires assessing for sleep disturbance, daytime sleepiness and mood and quality of life.

The research team concluded at the end of the study that 74.8 percent of participants were poor sleepers and the mean self-reported sleep duration was only 6 hours and 20 minutes a night. The results also showed that 52 percent of the patients suffered from anxiety, and 43 percent were found to be depressed.


Once controlling for age, sex, hypertension, diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea, sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were found to be significantly associated with mood disturbance and quality of life impairment.

The lead supervisor for the study, Dr. G. Neil Thomas, shared the following comments according to Science Daily,

“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.”[1]

Doctors now need to routinely check for patients not getting enough sleep

What has also been highlighted, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr, is the need for physicians to carry out routine screenings for sleep problems among people with severe obesity, and that by improving sleep for these patients will go on to provide a physical and emotional boost for people who are trying to manage obesity and the all of the lifestyle changes required to successfully do it.

So until now, the role sleep could play in the health and well-being of people with obesity has been largely ignored, even by experts who suggest dramatic and positive diet and lifestyle changes. Even though this study did not allow for the examination of causality, the results overall have suggested that by detecting patients who are obese and those that also have disturbed sleep could down the line, prevent many psychological problems from occurring.

I personally have found that by addressing how a person is feeling mentally often helps get to the root cause of a person’s obesity, and I am glad studies are being carried out to back this up. As according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a whopping 35.7 percent of all US adults are obese, and so this forces the question how many of those are suffering with psychological problems that could benefit from resolving their underlying sleep problems? And how many people around the world could benefit from this type of help also outside the US?


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