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Excessive sleepiness linked to higher health risks in older people

Man falls asleep from excessive sleepiness

Older people who experience excessive sleepiness in the daytime could be at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto at the end of April.

Feeling overly tired, despite getting adequate sleep at night, is called hypersomnolence and it has previously been linked to cancer and high blood pressure.

Study author Dr Maurice Ohayon, from Stanford University in California, said: “Paying attention to sleepiness in older adults could help doctors predict and prevent future medical conditions.”

More than 10,000 people were recruited for the research, which involved the participants being interviewed twice over the phone, three years apart.

Of all the people, 34% were aged 65 or older. During the first phone interview, 23% of people over 65 fit the criteria of excessive sleepiness. Through the study, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes or blood pressure was found to be 2.3 times higher than the less sleepy participants. They were also twice as likely to develop cancer.

Researchers identified 840 people who said they had experienced sleepiness in the day at the first phone interview. Of that, 6.2% who reported sleepiness during this first interview developed type 2 diabetes, compared to just 2.9% of those who were never sleepy during the day.

Those who reported excessive sleepiness only in the second interview were 50% more likely to develop diseases in the musculoskeletal system like arthritis.

A member of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr Ohayon said: “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 study findings were unveiled at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Canada.

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