Definition

What is hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia, which refers to either excessive daytime sleepiness or excessive time spent sleeping, is a condition in which a person has trouble staying awake during the day. People who have hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time — for instance, at work or while they are driving. They may also have other sleep-related problems, including a lack of energy and trouble thinking clearly.

How common is hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is more prevalent in men than in women, affecting approximately 5% of the population. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of hypersomnia?

Different from feeling tired due to lack of or interrupted sleep at night, persons with hypersomnia are compelled to nap repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times such as at work, during a meal, or in conversation. These daytime naps usually provide no relief from symptoms. Patients often have difficulty waking from a long sleep, and may feel disoriented.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Increased irritation
  • Decreased energy
  • Restlessness
  • Slow thinking
  • Slow speech
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory difficulty

Some patients lose the ability to function in family, social, occupational, or other settings

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes hypersomnia?

Primary hypersomnia is thought to be caused by problems in the brain systems that control sleep and waking functions.

Secondary hypersomnia is the result of conditions that cause fatigue or insufficient sleep. For example, sleep apnea can cause hypersomnia because it can cause trouble breathing at night, forcing people to wake up multiple times throughout the night.

Some medications can also cause hypersomnia. Frequent drug and alcohol use may trigger sleepiness during the day. Other possible causes are low thyroid function and head injury.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for hypersomnia?

People with conditions that make them tired during the day are most at risk for hypersomnia. These conditions include sleep apnea, kidney conditions, heart conditions, brain conditions, atypical depression, and low thyroid function.

The American Sleep Association states that the condition affects men more than women.

People who smoke or drink regularly are also at risk of developing hypersomnia. Medications that cause drowsiness can have side effects similar to hypersomnia.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hypersomnia diagnosed?

To diagnose hypersomnia, a doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam can test for alertness.

Doctors use several tests to diagnose hypersomnia, including:

  • Sleep diary: You record sleep and awake times through the night to track sleeping patterns.
  • Epworth sleepiness scale: You rate your sleepiness to determine the severity of the condition.
  • Multiple sleep latency test: You take a monitored nap during the day. The test measures the types of sleep you experience.
  • Polysomnogram: You stay at a sleep center overnight. A machine monitors brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, oxygen levels, and breathing function.

How is hypersomnia treated?

If you are diagnosed with hypersomnia, your doctor can prescribe various drugs to treat it, including stimulants, antidepressants, as well as several newer medications (for example, Provigil and Xyrem).

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe a treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. With CPAP, you wear a mask over your nose while you are sleeping. A machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nostrils is hooked up to the mask. The pressure from air flowing into the nostrils helps keep the airways open.

If you are taking a medication that causes drowsiness, ask your doctor about changing to one that is less likely to make you sleepy. You may also want to go to bed earlier to try to get more sleep at night, and eliminate alcohol and caffeine.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hypersomnia?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hypersomnia:

There’s no way to prevent some forms of hypersomnia. You can reduce the risk of hypersomnia by creating a peaceful sleeping environment and avoiding alcohol. Also avoid medications that cause drowsiness and avoid working late at night.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: October 30, 2017 | Last Modified: October 30, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.