Depression, Obesity to Blame For Daytime Sleepiness

Depression and obesity are issues in their own right, but the two common complaints may also be to blame for another increasingly pervasive issue: daytime sleepiness.

Even if you’re relatively young, you’ve probably anecdotally noticed an increase in all three- depression, fatigue and obesity- among people you know and meet. Particularly the sleepiness part, as it seems while many people battle depression, as a culture, we have grown overall not only more tired during the day, but more fixated upon sleep.

And researchers at Penn State examining the twin issues of depression and obesity have noticed the “epidemic” of daytime sleepiness as well- and has linked the issues in a new study of more than 1,700 adults.

The Penn State researchers looked at a random sample of 1,741 adults, determining that weight gain was the single biggest determining factor for excessive daytime sleepiness, or EDS. Lead researcher of three studies on the matter, Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, explains:

“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.”

excessive daytime sleepiness EDS

In one of the depression, obesity and excessive sleepiness studies, Vgontzas says that after seven years, “results showed that in individuals who lost weight, excessive sleepiness improved.” He concludes:

“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 findings concerning depression, obesity and excessive daytime sleepiness were presented at the SLEEP 2012 conference in Boston.