Sleep disturbance and pain in an obese residential treatment-seeking population

Clin J Pain. 2009 Sep;25(7):584-9. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e3181a0ff17.


Background: The relationships between body mass index (BMI) and sleep disturbance, sleep disturbance and pain, and obesity and pain are documented; however, there is a paucity of research exploring how sleep relates to pain in obese populations.

Method: The participants comprized 386 (234 women, 152 men) obese (BMI M=40.7) adult (age M=51.0 y) patients enrolling in a 4-week residential obesity treatment program. All information was gathered as part of the initial program evaluation.

Results: The prevalence of patients reporting at least 1 disturbed sleep symptom was 84.8%. The prevalence of patients reporting at least 1 type of pain was 83.4%. After controlling for depression, anxiety, BMI, age, and sleep apnea treatment, regression analyses showed that daytime sleepiness, night sweats (P<0.01), difficulties falling asleep, and difficulties staying asleep (P<0.05) predicted the total number of pain symptoms reported by women. Among men, controlling for the same variables, fatigue (P<0.01), night sweats, and difficulty falling asleep (P<0.05) predicted the number of pain symptoms reported.

Discussion: These results suggest that in this obese population, disturbed sleep and pain are related, and that this relationship may be different in men and women. Given the prevalence of pain and disturbed sleep in obese populations, this represents a valuable first step in better understanding this relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / rehabilitation
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Residential Treatment
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires