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Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Sets Stage for Diabetes, Cancer and High Blood Pressure

Does your grandfather or grandmother sleep the day away, even after getting a full night’s sleep?

If they do, they may be at risk for developing new medical conditions, according to new research.

Older people who experience excessive daytime sleepiness may be at an increased risk of developing new medical conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure, according to a new study from Stanford University.

The condition is called hypersomnolence, which is defined as excessive daytime sleepiness even after having seven or more hours of sleep, according to researchers. It can be debilitating for some people, affecting the way that they perform at work and in other daily activities, researchers noted.

“Paying attention to sleepiness in older adults could help doctors predict and prevent future medical conditions,” said study author Maurice M. Ohayon, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., of Stanford University in California, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Older adults and their family members may want to take a closer look at sleeping habits to understand the potential risk for developing a more serious medical condition.”

The new study involved 10,930 people. About a third — 34 percent — of the study participants were 65 years or older.

Researchers interviewed the study participants over the phone two times, three years apart. In the first interview, 23 percent of people over 65 met the criteria for excessive sleepiness, according to the researchers. In the second interview, 24 percent reported excessive sleepiness to the researchers. Of those, 41 percent said the sleepiness was a chronic problem, researchers reported.

The study found that people who reported sleepiness in the first phone interview had a 2.3 times greater risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure three years later than those who did not experience sleepiness. They were also twice as likely to develop cancer, according to the study’s findings.

Of the 840 people who reported sleepiness at the first interview, 52 people, or 6.2 percent, developed diabetes, compared to 74 people, or 2.9% of those who were never sleepy during the day, according to the researchers.

Also, of the 840 people who reported sleepiness, 20 people, or 2.4%, developed cancer compared to 21 people, or 0.8% of those who were never sleepy during the day, the study found.

The results remained the same after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect daytime sleepiness, such as gender and sleep apnea.

People who reported daytime sleepiness during both interviews had a 2.5 times greater risk of developing heart disease, according to the study’s findings.

Study participants who reported sleepiness only in the second interview were 50 percent more likely to also have diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, such as arthritis, tendinitis, and lupus, than those who did not have daytime sleepiness, the researchers discovered.

A limitation of the study was that it relied on the study participants’ memories, rather than monitoring their sleep length and quality and daytime sleepiness in a sleep clinic, according to the researchers.

The preliminary study was released in March 1, 2020. It will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020. The study was supported by the Arrillaga Foundation.

Source: The American Academy of Neurology

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Sets Stage for Diabetes, Cancer and High Blood Pressure

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2020). Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Sets Stage for Diabetes, Cancer and High Blood Pressure. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/03/02/excessive-daytime-sleepiness-sets-stage-for-diabetes-cancer-and-high-blood-pressure/154573.html
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 2 Mar 2020 (Originally: 2 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 2 Mar 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.