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J Intern Med. 2003 May;253(5):536-43.

Low sleep quality and daytime sleepiness in obese patients without obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome.

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Respiratory Pathophysiology, Department of Clinical Methodology and Medical-Surgical Technologies, University of Bari, School of Medicine, Bari, Italy.



To evaluate sleep quality, sleep-related symptoms, and degree of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in severe obesity, independently of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS).


A cross-sectional study.


Primary-care setting.


Anthropometric parameters, respiratory function data and sleep related symptoms were evaluated in 78 severely obese patients (aged 16-75 years) without OSAS and in 40 healthy sex- and age-matched normal weight subjects, who underwent a full-night polysomnography.


Obese patients and control subjects had similar sleep latency and rapid eye movement (REM) latency, but they showed lower percentage of REM (P < 0.01) and sleep efficiency (P < 0.05) than controls. All sleep-related symptoms (observed or reported apnoea, awakenings, choking and unrefreshing sleep) were significantly more frequent in obese patients than in control subjects. Loud snoring was present in 46.7% of the obese patients and in 8.1% of the control individuals (P < 0.01). Excess daytime sleepiness was reported by 34.7% of the obese patients and by 2.7% of the normal weight subjects (P < 0.01). The Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) was higher in the obese group than in the control group (P < 0.01), whereas arousals were not different between the two groups.


This study clearly shows that severe obesity, even in the absence of OSAS, is associated with sleep-related disorders and EDS. All these alterations may be partly responsible for a lower quality of life, a higher prevalence of medical complications, an increased risk of occupational injury, and both social and family problems characterizing obese patients, independently of the presence of OSAS.

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