Wake Up America: 1 in 5 People Are Sleepy

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About 30 percent of US adults reported moderate to excessive sleepiness, with 11 percent of them reporting severe sleepiness, said Maurice Ohayon, a psychiatry professor at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center.

“The prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness is very high in the American population, much higher than what we observed in the European population. Insufficient sleep is plaguing the American population and is one of the leading factors for excessive daytime sleepiness,” Ohayon stated.

“The number of individuals sleepy or drowsy during situations where they should be alert is disturbing,” Ohayon said. “Sleepiness is underestimated in its daily life consequences for the general population, for the shift workers and for the people reducing their amount of sleep for any kind of good reasons. It is always a mistake to curtail your sleep.”

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Those most likely to suffer excessive sleepiness were people with sleep apnea, a breathing disorder in which the sleeper's soft tissue blocks the upper airway, decreasing or halting airflow multiple times per night.

People with an insomnia diagnosis also suffered from daytime sleepiness as did, those who sleep six hours or less, night workers and those with a major depressive disorder. Women between the ages of 25 and 34 had the highest rate of daytime sleepiness. Ohayon believes that motherhood might play a role in demanding their attention at all hours.

The study consisted of asking 8,937 people aged 18 or over living in Texas, New York and California about sleeping habits, health, sleep problems and mental disorders. The researchers were then able to gather the data for this study, which was funded by a grant from Cephalon, a pharmaceutical company and maker of Nuvugi, a medication that helps people stay awake and alert. The research was supported by the Arrillaga Foundation, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health.

This page is updated on May 11, 2013.

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