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Undiagnosed Sleep Problems May Lead To Long Term Health Issues

Last updated March 31, 2020

Approved by: Lester Fahrner, MD

Sixteen percent of Georgia’s residents experience persistent problems staying awake during the day, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published online today in the American Journal of Epidemiology.This research points to the importance of diagnosing and treating sleep problems before they could potentially develop into long term health issues.


Undiagnosed Sleep Problems May Lead To Long Term Health Issues

Sixteen percent of Georgia’s residents experience persistent problems staying awake during the day, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published online today in the American Journal of Epidemiology.This research points to the importance of diagnosing and treating sleep problems before they could potentially develop into long term health issues.

However, only 10 percent of the people in the study reported having been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

The study also found that in addition to problems staying awake:

35 percent of Georgians wake up in the morning feeling unrefreshed,

33 percent report that they snore,

31 percent cannot sleep through the night, and

25 percent complain that they have problems falling asleep. 

"Excessive daytime sleepiness can be an indication of an undiagnosed sleep-related disorder," says study author Michael Decker of CDC's Chronic Viral Diseases Branch. "Insufficient sleep and sleep disorders are associated with chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and obesity.  Sleep-related issues also can be primary symptoms of mental illness such as depression. But sleep-related issues also can be symptoms of other problems."

Because the study reflects Georgians in urban and rural areas, there is a probability that the findings can be generalized to the rest of the United States, but further studies would be needed to confirm this, Decker said.

This study analyzed 2005 data from the Georgia Study of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, in which 6,530 randomly selected adults were interviewed. According to William Reeves, chief of the Chronic Viral Diseases Branch, prevalence of daytime sleepiness and sleep-related complaints were similar among metropolitan, urban, and rural Georgians.

Diagnosis of sleep-related issues is important.  People who don’t get enough sleep, or have poor quality sleep, can present a hazard on the roads and in their jobs. Their sleep-related problems may also be associated with a reduced quality of life.

"Our findings highlight the need to educate the public about the symptoms of sleep disorders and to prompt them to seek appropriate care. We must also educate health care providers to recognize symptoms of sleep disorders when they are reported, and to act upon them," says Decker.

CDC has created the Web site www.cdc.gov/sleep to provide information about sleep and sleep disorders. To access this article, please link to http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/kwn365. For information about the American Journal of Epidemiology, please link to aje.oxfordjournals.org/. The study citation is DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwn365.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 31, 2020
Last updated: March 31, 2020