Obesity and Depression Leads to Sleepiness

According to new research, obesity and depression are but two of the main reasons why an individual might feel sleepy during the daytime. This conclusion was reached after three studies conducted by Penn State researchers with a random sample of 1,741 adults.

The study found that obesity and emotional stress are the root causes for sleepiness and fatigue during the daytime. It also found that insufficient sleep and obstructive sleep apnea play roles in exacerbating the condition. These two are also linked to other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, obesity and accidents.

According to Alexandros Vgontzas MD, the study lead for the three studies, “The ‘epidemic’ of sleepiness parallels an ‘epidemic’ of obesity and psychosocial stress. Weight loss, depression and sleep disorders should be our priorities in terms of preventing the medical complications and public safety hazards associated with this excessive sleepiness.”

One of the studies was a seven year follow up, with 222 adults who reported excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS. With those with EDS, weight gain was one of the biggest predicting factor. He added, “In fact, our results showed that in individuals who lost weight, excessive sleepiness improved.”

Those from the same group who developed EDS within the same timespan was also reviewed. The findings showed, which researchers saying that this was for the time, that depression and obesity were the top risk factors for new-onset excessive sleepiness.

The third study, with a population of 103 research volunteers, found once again that depression and obesity were amongst the best indicators for EDS. He further added, “The primary finding connecting our three studies are that depression and obesity are the main risk factors for both new-onset and persistent excessive sleepiness.”

The study found that the rate of new onset excessive sleepiness was eight percent and the rate of persistent daytime sleepiness was 38 percent. These three studies were presented at SLEEP 2012 at the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) in Boston.

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