How sleep and mental disorders are related to complaints of daytime sleepiness

Arch Intern Med. 1997 Dec;157(22):2645-52.


Background: Daytime sleepiness is widespread and has negative impacts on the public sector.

Objective: To ascertain the incidence and prevalence of daytime sleepiness and associated risk factors in the general population.

Method: In 1994, a representative sample of the non-institutionalized British population aged 15 years or older was interviewed via telephone using an expert computer-assisted program designed to facilitate surveys of this type (Sleep-Eval, M. M. Ohayon, Montreal, Quebec). Subjects were classified into 3 groups based on the severity of their daytime sleepiness. We completed 4972 interviews (acceptance rate, 79.6%).

Results: Severe daytime sleepiness was reported in 5.5% (95% confidence interval, 4.9%-6.1%) of the sample, and moderate daytime sleepiness in another 15.2% (95% confidence interval, 14.2%-16.2%). Associated factors with severe daytime sleepiness included female sex, middle age, napping, insomnia symptoms, high daily caffeine consumption, breathing pauses or leg pain in sleep, depressive disorder (based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria), falling asleep while reading or watching television, and motor vehicle crashes or accidents involving use of machinery. Moderate daytime sleepiness was associated with female sex, napping, insomnia symptoms, arthritis or heart disease, and gross motor movements during sleep.

Conclusions: It is likely that daytime sleepiness deleteriously affects work activities, social and/or marital life, and exhibits a negative socioeconomic impact. In addition, the risk of a motor vehicle crash appears to be higher in this specific population: twice as many subjects operating a motor vehicle or using machine tools reported having a crash or accident, respectively, in the previous year in the groups with severe daytime sleepiness or moderate daytime sleepiness than did the general population with no daytime sleepiness. The high prevalence rates of daytime sleepiness and multiplicity of related factors mandate further scrutiny by public health officials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Sleep Stages*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Smoking


  • Psychotropic Drugs