Sleep duration and physical function in people with severe obesity: a prospective cross-sectional study

Type Article

Journal Article


T. Ahern; E. O’Malley; C. Dunlevy; A. Khattak; H. O’Brien; T. Hassan; T. Cusack; W. T. McNicholas; D. O’Shea

Year of publication



Irish Journal of Medical Science








Background: Subjects with severe obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m2) have worse physical function and sleep less than lean people (BMI 18.5–25 kg/m2). Methods: In 554 subjects with severe obesity, we compared physical function in those with normal sleep duration (NSD, 6–9 h/night), short sleep duration (SSD, ≤ 6 h/night) and long sleep duration (LSD, ≥ 9 h/night). Results: The mean (±SD) age and BMI were 43.1 (± 11.1) years and 50.9 ± 8.6 kg/m2 respectively. One hundred ninety-six (35.4%) were male. More subjects in the NSD group (n = 256) were able to ascend and descend a step 50 times than in the SSD group (n = 247) or the LSD group (n = 51, 75.5% vs 62.8% vs 56.9%, p = 0.002). A similar observation was made for step speed (0.45 ± 0.11 vs 0.43 ± 0.10 vs 0.40 ± 0.11 steps/s respectively, p = 0.001). NSD participants were less likely to have fallen in the preceding year compared to LSD participants (21.1% vs 39.2%, p = 0.007) and also reported less low back pain compared to SSD participants (60.8% vs 75.9%, p = 0.004). Conclusions: In conclusion, abnormal sleep duration is associated with reduced physical function in non-elderly severely obese subjects. The effects of sleep hygiene interventions in this cohort warrant further assessment and may be beneficial to their physical function.