Sleep disturbance and insomnia in individuals seeking bariatric surgery

Jessica K. Salwen-Deremer, Colleen Schreyer, Genna F. Hymowitz, Amanda Montanari, Michael T. Smith, Janelle W. Coughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Sleep disturbance is well established in individuals with obesity, and the relationship between poor sleep and obesity is supported by population, longitudinal, experimental, and intervention studies. However, the prevalence and characteristics of poor sleep in individuals seeking bariatric surgery have thus far been poorly examined. Objectives: We sought to characterize self-reported sleep parameters in individuals seeking bariatric surgery and to compare these data with controls. Setting: Two Academic Medical Centers, United States, and an online survey of healthy controls. Method: Individuals seeking bariatric surgery (n = 427) completed presurgical psychological evaluations at 2 comprehensive bariatric surgery programs. Data on medical co-morbidities and from self-report questionnaires on sleep quality, insomnia, anxiety, and depression were abstracted from charts. Data from controls (n = 180) were collected using an online survey tool and compared with bariatric cases. Results: Across study sites, 40.4% of bariatric cases took at least 30 minutes to fall asleep, 46.7% had insufficient total sleep time (<6.5 hr), 65.1% reported general poor sleep quality, and 30.8% reported clinically significant insomnia symptoms. Approximately 20% of the variance in poor sleep quality and insomnia was explained by body mass index, obstructive sleep apnea, anxiety, and depression. Cases and controls were similar, although bariatric cases reported significantly poorer sleep efficiency. Conclusions: Our results suggest that similar to a control population, the majority of patients seeking bariatric surgery are experiencing sleep difficulties. Presurgical assessment and treatment of sleep problems may be beneficial to patients and may help improve weight loss treatment outcomes. Optimally, assessment would include 1 of the 2 self-report questionnaires used herein, and treatment would involve Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. Future research assessing sleep patterns with objective measurement tools and evaluating the impact of sleep on postsurgical outcomes is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-947
Number of pages8
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Insomnia
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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