Depression and obesity, in addition to good, old-fashioned poor sleeping habits, have been linked to the daytime sleepiness "epidemic" that is currently sweeping across the United States. In a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation, a shocking 20 percent of Americans experience drowsiness at some point during the day, particularly in the afternoon.
So how does one go about solving this problem if they are, in fact, depressed and obese? According to Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, you might consider losing some weight. "If you lose weight, you are going to be less tired and sleepy," he explained.
Of course, that kind of goes without saying.
Out of the 1,173 adults studied over the span of seven years, 138 participants developed excessive sleepiness during the daylight hours. For those who are obese and/or suffering from sleep apnea, the likelihood of becoming prematurely tired was twice as high. However, for those individuals suffering from depression, the risk of becoming drowsy during the day was three times higher. Additionally, those who experienced daytime sleepiness are also likely to gain weight.
Here's the triple threat: If you're depressed, obese, and suffering from sleep apnea, there's a very strong possibility that you're asleep right now.
Alon Y. Avidan, MD, MPH, associate professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, admitted that the findings offer nothing doctors didn't already know about excessive drowsiness. However, the study did find a strong link between BMI and being unusually tired.
The solution to the problem, of course, relies on the individual losing weight, getting treatment for their depression, and talking to their physicians about sleep apnea.