Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Daniel J. Whitaker

Second Advisor

Micheal J. Decker

Third Advisor

Donald L. Bliwise


BACKGROUND: Sleep problems affect people of all ages, race, gender, and socioeconomic classifications. Undiagnosed sleep disorders significantly and adversely impact a person’s level of academic achievement, job performance, and subsequently, socioeconomic status. Undiagnosed sleep disorders also negatively impact both direct and indirect costs for employers, the national government, and the general public. Sleepiness has significant implications on quality of life by impacting occupational performance, driving ability, cognition, memory, and overall health. The purpose of this study is to describe the prevalence of daytime sleepiness, as well as other quantitative predictors of sleep continuity and quality.

METHODS: Population data from the CDC program in fatigue surveillance were used for this secondary analysis seeking to characterize sleep quality and continuity variables. Each participant underwent a standard nocturnal polysomnography and a standard multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) on the subsequent day. Frequency and chi-square tests were used to describe the sample. One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to compare sleep related variables of groups with sleep latencies of <5 >minutes, 5-10 minutes, and >10 minutes. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the association of the sleep variables with sleep latency time.

RESULTS: The mean (SD) sleep latency of the sample was 8.8 (4.9) minutes. Twenty-four individuals had ≥1 SOREM, and approximately 50% of participants (n = 100) met clinical criteria for a sleep disorder. Individuals with shorter sleep latencies, compared to those with longer latencies reported higher levels of subjective sleepiness, had higher sleep efficiency percentages, and longer sleep times. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale, sleep efficiency percentage, total sleep time, the presence of a sleep disorder, and limb movement index were positively associated with a mean sleep latency of <5 >minutes.

CONCLUSIONS: The presence of a significant percentage of sleep disorders within our study sample validate prior suggestions that such disorders remain unrecognized, undiagnosed, and untreated. In addition, our findings confirm questionnaire-based surveys that suggest a significant number of the population is excessively sleepy, or hypersomnolent. Therefore, the high prevalence of sleep disorders and the negative public health effects of daytime sleepiness demand attention. Further studies are now required to better quantify levels daytime sleepiness, within a population based sample, to better understand their impact upon morbidity and mortality. This will not only expand on our current understanding of daytime sleepiness, but it will also raise awareness surrounding its significance and relation to public health.