Background: Obesity and depression are both associated with changes in sleep/wake regulation, with potential implications for individualized treatment especially in comorbid individuals suffering from both. However, the associations between obesity, depression, and subjective, questionnaire-based and objective, EEG-based measurements of sleepiness used to assess disturbed sleep/wake regulation in clinical practice are not well known. Objectives: The study investigates associations between sleep/wake regulation measures based on self-reported subjective questionnaires and EEG-derived measurements of sleep/wake regulation patterns with depression and obesity and how/whether depression and/or obesity affect associations between such self-reported subjective questionnaires and EEG-derived measurements. Methods: Healthy controls (HC, NHC = 66), normal-weighted depressed (DEP, NDEP = 16), non-depressed obese (OB, NOB = 68), and obese depressed patients (OBDEP, NOBDEP = 43) were included from the OBDEP (Obesity and Depression, University Leipzig, Germany) study. All subjects completed standardized questionnaires related to daytime sleepiness (ESS), sleep quality and sleep duration once as well as questionnaires related to situational sleepiness (KSS, SSS, VAS) before and after a 20 min resting state EEG in eyes-closed condition. EEG-based measurements of objective sleepiness were extracted by the VIGALL algorithm. Associations of subjective sleepiness with objective sleepiness and moderating effects of obesity, depression, and additional confounders were investigated by correlation analyses and regression analyses. Results: Depressed and non-depressed subgroups differed significantly in most subjective sleepiness measures, while obese and non-obese subgroups only differed significantly in few. Objective sleepiness measures did not differ significantly between the subgroups. Moderating effects of obesity and/or depression on the associations between subjective and objective measures of sleepiness were rarely significant, but associations between subjective and objective measures of sleepiness in the depressed subgroup were systematically weaker when patients comorbidly suffered from obesity than when they did not. Conclusion: This study provides some evidence that both depression and obesity can affect the association between objective and subjective sleepiness. If confirmed, this insight may have implications for individualized diagnosis and treatment approaches in comorbid depression and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020


  • depression
  • EEG
  • obesity
  • sleepiness


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