Polysomnographic Indicators of Restorative Sleep and Body Mass Trajectories in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study

Document Type


Journal/Book Title


Publication Date


Award Number

NIH 1R01HL132274-01A1


NIH 1R01HL132274-01A1


Oxford University Press


Study Objectives

Previous research suggests that reductions in restorative, slow-wave (N3), and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are associated with weight gain and obesity in mid-to-late life. We extend prior work by examining how within-person (WP) changes and between-person (BP) differences in restorative sleep over several years are associated with body mass trajectories among participants in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study (WSCS).


We used data from 4,862 polysomnographic (PSG) sleep studies and physical exams collected from 1,187 WSCS participants over an average duration of 14.9 years. Primary measures of interest included body mass index (BMI = kg/m2) and the percentages of time spent in N3 and REM sleep. We estimated a series of linear mixed regression models to examine how WP changes and BP differences in N3 and REM sleep affected BMI trajectories, controlling for other sleep measures, demographic characteristics, and health behaviors as potential confounders.


Women in the WSCS experienced more rapid BMI gain than men. With some variation by sex, we found that (1) below-average N3 and REM sleep is associated with above-average BMI, and (2) within-person decreases in N3 and REM sleep over time are associated with gains in BMI. These findings persisted after adjustment for sleep duration and other potential confounders.


Our findings highlight the importance of PSG indices of restorative sleep in mid-to-late life, suggesting that future clinical treatments and public health policies will benefit from heightened attention to sleep quality.