Depression can cause daytime sleepiness

Depression is among the main causes of sleepiness during the daytime, new research has suggested. Presented at SLEEP 2012, the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston, three studies found obesity also plays a part in individuals feeling excessively tired while awake.

Investigators from Penn State discovered emotional stress and overeating have played a contributory role in the current fatigue epidemic in the US.

Alexandros Vgontzas, the principal investigator for the research, noted: "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."

All three studies pointed to depression and obesity as the primary risk factors for sleepiness, in both its persistent excessive and new-onset variants.

To compile the reports, researchers studied 222 adults with excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and followed up these findings seven-and-a-half years later - with weight gain found to be the strongest predicting factor when EDS persisted.

Dr Helen Nightingale, a Chartered Psychologist, comments:

"Sleep disturbance has always been considered to be an indicator of depression. This can go either way on the continuum of sleep, some people who are depressed find themselves sleeping more during the day and some people find themselves hardly sleeping at all during the night. The pattern  can vary with the individual, but disturbance of normal sleep patterns is very common, and included in this would be the feeling of sleepiness or tiredness during the day. "