Sleep and body mass index in depressed children and healthy controls

Julita Wojnar, Kirk J. Brower, Richard Dopp, Marcin Wojnar, Graham Emslie, Jeanne Rintelmann, Robert F. Hoffmann, Roseanne Armitage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: Higher body mass index (BMI) has been associated with more sleep disturbance and depressive symptoms, but the combined effects of depression and BMI on sleep have not been studied in children. This study evaluated the relationship between BMI and polysomnography in children with major depressive disorder (MDD), compared to healthy controls (HCs). Method: The sample of 104 subjects included 72 children, 8-17 years old, with MDD and 32 similarly aged HCs with no personal or family history of psychopathology. BMI was adjusted using the CDC formula for percentiles by age. Subjects were categorized as (1) normal weight (5-84th percentile) or (2) high weight, which included at risk of overweight and overweight (≥85th percentile). All analyses were adjusted for sex and Tanner maturational stage scores. Results: In the MDD group only, higher BMI was significantly correlated with decreased sleep efficiency, decreased percentage of rapid eye movement sleep (REM%), and higher percentage of time spent awake and moving (TSPAM). In the HC group only, higher BMI correlated with higher total sleep time. Multivariate analyses revealed significant interactions between the BMI and diagnostic groups for several REM sleep parameters, such that high-weight children from the HC and MDD groups had increases and decreases in REM sleep, respectively. TSPAM increased in the high-weight MDD group, but decreased in the high-weight HC group. Conclusions: Although limited by small sample size, these findings suggest that children and adolescents with MDD and a high BMI have more fragmented sleep than other children. The increased REM sleep patterns observed with MDD in this and other studies normalized in high-weight children with MDD. Prevention and treatment strategies should target both sleep and weight as factors that can potentially influence the development and course of MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Body mass index
  • Children
  • Depression
  • Overweight
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Sleep and body mass index in depressed children and healthy controls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this