This isn’t a “contest” that you want to win. According to research presented at this week’s annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, 20% of Americans report experiencing moderate to excessive sleepiness during the daytime hours. That compares to 15% in Europe. Eleven percent of the Americans being studied reported severe sleepiness, which was more prevalent in women (13 percent) than in men (8.6 percent).
“The prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness is very high in the American population, much higher than what we observed in the European population,” said principal investigator Dr. Maurice Ohayon, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center in Palo Alto, Calif. In a study published in the June 2002 issue of the journal Neurology, Ohayon reported that the prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness in five European countries was 15 percent.
“Insufficient sleep is plaguing the American population and is one of the leading factors for excessive daytime sleepiness,” Ohayon added.
The study also found that nearly 18 percent of participants reported falling asleep or being drowsy in situations that required a high level of concentration, such as during meetings or conversations. In these situations people with obstructive sleep apnea were three times more likely to be sleepy (odds ratio = 3.0), people with an insomnia diagnosis (OR = 2.6) and those who typically sleep for six hours or less (OR = 2.5) were over two times more likely to be drowsy, and people who perform night work (OR = 1.9) and those with a major depressive disorder (OR = 1.9) were nearly two times more likely to report sleepiness.