Sleep duration and BMI in a sample of young adults

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Jun;20(6):1279-87. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.381. Epub 2012 Jan 26.


We examined the association between sleep duration and BMI in young adults, and, specifically, in possible gender differences. The population-based sample included 955 young men and 1051 young women (mean age = 25.3 years, s.d. = 1.7) who participated in Project EAT-III (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults)-III. In 2008-2009, study participants completed a survey, on which they reported their weight, height, and typical bed and awakening times. Gender-specific regression models estimated cross-sectional associations between sleep duration and weight status, adjusting for age, race, SES, family structure, depressive symptoms, physical activity, and sedentary and dietary behaviors. In multivariable-adjusted linear regression models, an hour increase in sleep was associated with a -0.38 (-0.70, -0.048) BMI in men. Men who slept <7 h had a 1.4 unit higher mean BMI (27.9; 95% confidence interval (CI): 26.9, 28.9) than men who slept 7-9 h/day (26.5; 95% CI: 26.1, 27.0). Prevalence estimates of overweight (BMI ≥ 25) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30) were also inversely associated with sleep duration among men. Sleep duration was not associated with BMI, overweight, or obesity in women. Among women, but not men, there was a statistically significant positive association between trouble falling or staying asleep and mean BMI. Sleep may be an important modifiable risk factor for obesity, particularly in young adult men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / blood
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult