By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Is your sleepiness because you’re not getting sleep? Recent studies say not necessarily. Mood and obesity may be bigger reasons.

“This is what we’ve been seeing clinically for years,” Dr. Lewis Klein, West Penn Hospital sleep specialist, said.

One study surveyed more than 1,700 adults. Two other studies followed more than 200 people for more than seven years.

All three studies say weight gain, emotional stress and depression are the main risk factors for new and persistent tiredness.

But risk factors aren’t the same as reasons. Different types of studies would be needed to figure those out.

“Maybe there’s a common pathway, where you have a brain disorder causing sleepiness, and a brain disorder causing depression and there’s one neurochemical problem there that could take care of both of those things,” Dr. Klein said. “So, you’re right. Association does not mean cause.”

Diabetes, anemia, sleep apnea, and a variety of other health conditions can lead to the problem, whether you call it tiredness, fatigue or sleepiness.

With a thorough doctor’s evaluation, the cause can be found and specifically addressed.

Other factors lower on the list include age — the older you are, the less well you sleep and simply believing you aren’t getting enough sleep.

One in three people get less than eight hours of sleep a night.

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