Background: The Berlin and Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) are simple, validated, and widely used questionnaires designed to assess symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) a common but often unrecognized cause of morbidity and mortality.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 2,639 college students to examine the extent to which symptoms of OSAS are associated with the odds of common mental disorders (CMDs). The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used to evaluate the presence of CMDs while the Berlin and ESS were used to assess high-risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and excessive daytime sleepiness, respectively. Logistic regression procedures were used to derive odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) assessing the independent and joint associations of high-risk for OSA and excessive daytime sleepiness with odds of CMDs.
Results: Approximately 19% of students had high-risk for OSA while 26.4% had excessive daytime sleepiness. Compared to students without high-risk for OSA and without excessive daytime sleepiness (referent group), students with excessive daytime sleepiness only (OR=2.01; 95%CI: 1.60-2.52) had increased odds of CMDs. The odds of CMDs for students with high-risk OSA only was 1.26 (OR=1.26; 95%CI 0.94-1.68). Students with both high-risk for OSA and excessive daytime sleepiness, compared to the referent group, had the highest odds of CMDs (OR=2.45; 95%CI: 1.69-3.56).
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that symptoms of OSAS are associated with increased risk of CMDs. These findings emphasize the comorbidity of sleep disorders and CMDs and suggest that there may be benefits to investing in educational programs that extend the knowledge of sleep disorders in young adults.
Keywords: College students; Common mental disorders; Ethiopia; GHQ; OSAS; Sleep apnea syndrome.