What Is Hypersomnia Or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is an annoying medical condition which many people suffer from these days to an extent that it somehow or the other interferes with their daily activities at home or at work. There are some medical conditions that can cause Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome and the like which does not allow an individual to get a good night's sleep causing severe sleep deprivation. Other conditions like depression along with certain medications, drug and alcohol abuse can also cause Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, although in most of the cases there is no underlying cause for an individual having excessive sleepiness in daytime and there is no clear cut explanation for their condition. Such individual may have Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness despite having a good night's sleep. This type of condition is called Idiopathic Hypersomnia.

What Is Hypersomnia Or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

What Causes Hypersomnia Or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

As stated, medical conditions like depression, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, snoring, certain classes of medications, or alcohol abuse may cause Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, although in cases of Idiopathic Hypersomnia there is no known cause to Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. It is believed that Idiopathic Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is caused due to some problem with the brain system which regulates sleep and wake responses. Researchers are of the opinion that people with Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness produce much of a molecule called GABA which acts as a sedative and hence those individuals always feel sleepy.

What Are The Indications For Hypersomnia Or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Individual with Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness have severe difficulty in staying awake during daytime and they have to take long naps during daytime along with their regular sleep at night. Such individuals may fall asleep at awkward times like while having a conversation, while eating or driving. Even the long naps may not be sufficient to make the individual feel fresh. Apart from taking long naps during the day, such individuals also sleep for more than 10 hours at night and then wake up sluggish in the morning. People with Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness may also have the following:

  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Appetite loss
  • Always feel fatigued
  • Always feel restless or agitated
  • Have slow processing speed
  • Have memory problems.

These symptoms more often than not can be observed when the individual is in the early twenties, although in some individuals it may appear much later in life. This condition needs to be treated and does not resolve on its own.

How Is Hypersomnia Or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Diagnosed?

If an individual constantly feels drowsy during the day and tends to fall asleep at awkward time and places which affects the productivity of the individual then that individual needs to consult with a treating physician and discuss the situation. The physician will inquire about the sleeping habits of the patient. The physician will also inquire about any history of alcohol or drug use or abuse currently or in the past. The physician may also refer the individual to a psychologist for a counseling session if the individual has some sort of stress or emotional problem in life which could be interfering with sleep. The physician may also order tests to know about the exact cause of Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. Depending on the extent of symptoms the physician may order the following tests:

Polysomnogram: This test is done to rule out the possibilities of sleep disorders like narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea contributing to Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. The individual will be put in a room and made to sleep while being observed from another room throughout the night. There will be electrodes attached to the face, head and other parts of the body in order to monitor the brain activity during the sleep cycle. The breathing pattern will also be monitored.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test: In this test, the individual is made to sleep four or five times in a timed fashion throughout the day in order to measure the time of onset of sleep. Under normal circumstances, it does not take more than 10 minutes for an individual to fall asleep.

In cases of Idiopathic Hypersomnia, it is normally diagnosed if an individual falls asleep in less than 10 minutes at any given time without experiencing REM sleep.

What Is The Treatment For Hypersomnia Or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Medications are prescribed for treatment of Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, although there are no classic medications available specifically to treat this condition. Usually the medications prescribed are those that are used to treat another medical condition called narcolepsy. Some of the medications used in this class are amphetamine, methylphenidate, and modafinil. A most recent medication has been available in the market called flumazenil which has shown promise and has been noted to be productive in some individuals, although more tests need to be done to prove its effectiveness. This medication works by stopping the effects of benzodiazepines which is used for treating sleep problems or anxiety. Antidepressants may also be prescribed in some cases if an emotional problem is interfering with the sleep of an individual.

Lifestyle Changes To Improve Hypersomnia Or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

The best way to avoid Hypersomnia or Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is to try and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and medications which tend to worsen the condition. It is also useful to avoid working in the nights or engage in social activities which affects the normal bedtime of an individual.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: March 25, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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