Severely obese people who don't sleep well at night are more likely to experience mood disturbances and lower quality of life, according to a new study in the journal SLEEP.
A team of researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. analyzed sleep issues, quality of life and mood of 270 severely obese people (indicated by a BMI of 47), with an average age of 43.
Three out of four study participants reported poor sleep, with an average of six hours and 20 minutes each night. About half of the study participants were anxious, and 43 percent reported being depressed.
The researchers took into account other potential factors -- such as diabetes, sleep apnea, age and sex -- and found an association between poor sleep quality and high levels of daytime sleepiness, and low quality of life and mood disturbances.
The findings suggest doctors should be asking their severely obese patients about their sleep, since poor sleep seems to affect psychological health.
"Despite the very high levels of problems in these patients, those involved with their care usually don’t ask about sleep problems and often pay little heed to the psychological issues underlying the obesity," study researcher Dr. G. Neil Thomas, of the University of Birmingham in the U.K., said in a statement. "The focus is often on treating the obesity and its consequences, such as diet and exercise interventions, rather than addressing its underlying cause, which may be psychological in nature, such as an unhappy marriage or job stress."
Poor sleep can also raise the risk of obesity, multiple studies have found. For instance, an American Journal of Human Biology study showed that not getting enough sleep is associated with raised blood pressure levels, impaired glucose metabolism and problems with appetite regulation.
For more scary effects of bad sleep, click through the slideshow:
...Increase Stroke Risk
Even without the typical risk factors, like being overweight or having a family history, short sleep can up your risk for stroke, according to 2012 research. Adults who regularly slept fewer than six hours a night had <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/sleep-stroke-risk_n_1586837.html">four times the risk of stroke symptoms</a>, HuffPost reported.
...Lead To Obesity
Too little sleep can spur some less-than-ideal food choices, including <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/sleep-portion-sizes-deprivation-food-calories_n_2735497.html">serving yourself larger portions</a>, and a hankering for junk food, thanks to some complicated hormonal changes that occur when you don't get sufficient shuteye. It seems that six hours of sleep or less <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/26/sleep-deprivation-obesity-leptin-ghrelin-insulin_n_2007043.html">bumps up production of the hunger hormone ghrelin</a> and limits leptin, which helps you balance your food intake, according to a 2012 review of 18 studies of sleep and appetite.
...Up Diabetes Risk
A pair of small studies from 2012 examined the link between poor sleep and insulin resistance, a telltale risk factor for diabetes. One found that among healthy teenagers, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/03/sleep-insulin-resistance-teens_n_1929374.html">shortest sleepers had the highest insulin resistance</a>, meaning the body is <a href="http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/#resistance">not using insulin effectively</a>, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The second study examined fat cells, in particular, and found that cutting back on sleep <a href="http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1379773">increased insulin resistance in these cells</a>, even when <a href="http://news.health.com/2012/10/15/sleep-deprivation-insulin-resistance/">diet and calorie intake were restricted</a>, Health.com reported.
...Fuel Memory Loss
You probably know that on the days when you are most tired, you're forgetful and unfocused -- but sleep deprivation can lead to <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130127134212.htm"><em>permanent</em> cognitive issues</a>. The less we sleep, the less we benefit from the memory-storing properties of sleep. But additionally, a lack of sleep can cause <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/sleep-deprivation-memory-loss_n_2566999.html">"brain deterioration,"</a> according to a 2013 study, which may at least in part explain memory loss in seniors.
At least in rats, long-term <a href="http://ebm.rsmjournals.com/content/237/9/1101.full">sleep deprivation seems to contribute to osteoporosis</a>, according to a 2012 study. Researchers found <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/sleep-deprivation-bones-marrow_n_1898610.html">changes to bone mineral density and bone marrow</a> in the rodents when they were deprived of shuteye over a period of 72 days. "If true in humans, and I expect that it may be, this work will have great impact on our understanding of <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-09/sfeb-los_1091812.php">the impact of sleep deprivation on osteoporosis</a> and inability to repair bone damage as we age," Steven R. Goodman, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine, said in a statement.
...Increase Cancer Risk
A small (but growing) body of research suggests that short and poor sleep can up risk for certain types of cancer. A 2010 study found that among 1,240 people screened for colorectal cancer, the 338 who were diagnosed were <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.25507/abstract">more likely to average fewer than six hours of sleep</a> a night. Even after controlling for more traditional risk factors, polyps were more common in people who slept less, according to the study. Getting just six hours of sleep a night has also been linked to an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/sleep-breast-cancer-aggressive-deprivation_n_1854658.html">increase of recurrence in breast cancer patients</a>. The study's author has pointed to more and better sleep as a possible pathway of reducing risk and recurrence.
...Hurt Your Heart
The stress and strain of too little sleep can cause the body to produce more of the chemicals and hormones that can lead to heart disease, according to 2011 research. The study found that people who slept for six hours or less each night and have problems staying asleep had a 48 percent <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208091426.htm">higher risk of developing or dying from heart disease</a>.
It's not just heart problems that can lead to sleep-deprivation-related death. In fact, <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2010/09/02/lack-of-sleep-can-cause-depression-weight-gain-and-even-death/">short sleepers seem to die younger</a> of any cause than people who sleep about 6.5 to 7.5 hours a night, TIME reported. A 2010 study examined the impact of short sleep on mortality and found that <a href="http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=27894">men who slept for less than six hours of sleep a night were four times more likely</a> to die over a 14-year period. The study's authors called this link "a risk that has been underestimated."