, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 267-274
Date: 13 Apr 2012

Subjective sleepiness and daytime functioning in bariatric patients with obstructive sleep apnea

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate associations between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity and self-reported sleepiness and daytime functioning in patients considering bariatric surgery for treatment of obesity.


Using a retrospective cohort design, we identified 342 patients who had sleep evaluations prior to bariatric surgery. Our final sample included 269 patients (78.6 % of the original cohort, 239 females; mean age = 42.0 ± 9.5 years; body mass index = 50.2 ± 7.7 kg/m2) who had overnight polysomnography and completed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and the Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire (FOSQ). Patients' OSA was classified as none/mild (apnea–hypopnea index (AHI) < 15, n = 112), moderate (15 ≤ AHI < 30, n = 77), or severe (AHI ≥ 30, n = 80). We calculated the proportion of unique variance (PUV) for the five FOSQ subscales. ANOVA was used to determine if ESS and FOSQ were associated with OSA severity. Unpaired t tests compared ESS and FOSQ scores in our sample with published data.


The average AHI was 29.5 ± 31.5 events per hour (range = 0–175.8). The mean ESS score was 6.3 ± 4.8, and the mean global FOSQ score was 100.3 ± 18.2. PUVs for FOSQ subscales showed moderate-to-high unique contributions to FOSQ variance. ESS and global FOSQ score did not differ by AHI group. Only the FOSQ vigilance subscale differed by OSA severity with the severe group reporting more impairment than the moderate and none/mild groups. Our sample reported less sleepiness and daytime impairment than previously reported means in patients and controls.


Subjective sleepiness and functional impairment were not associated significantly with OSA severity in our sample of patients considering surgery for obesity. Further research is needed to understand individual differences in sleepiness in patients with OSA. If bariatric patients underreport symptoms, self-report measures are not an adequate substitute for objective assessment and clinical judgment when evaluating bariatric patients for OSA. Patients with severe obesity need evaluation for OSA even in the absence of subjective complaints.