Feeling excessively sleepy during the day is one of the main symptoms of hypersomnia. Long daytime naps do not provide any relief from the symptoms of this sleeping disorder. Though many people might suffer from sleep deprivation and feel sleepy during the day due to excessive physical or mental stress, they might not actually be affected by hypersomnia.
Sometimes, certain medical conditions may induce fatigue, and cause one to feel excessively sleepy. However, these mentioned conditions are not the same as idiopathic hypersomnia, wherein sleepiness cannot be attributed to a definite reason.
Average 8 hours of sleep at night is sufficient for a healthy person to feel energetic throughout the day. In fact, number of hours of sleep that one needs may vary, according to one's age, work, the overall health, etc. However, people affected by this condition (also known as idiopathic somnolence), need to sleep longer than this.
They feel so sleepy during the day (while working, driving, or during any activity) that they cannot stay awake. They can fall asleep even while having dinner, watching movies, or during official meetings. They may have difficulty waking up, and may feel disoriented or confused after waking up.
Idiopathic hypersomnia (also referred to as primary hypersomnia) and recurrent hypersomnia (also known as recurrent primary hypersomnia) are the two types of hypersomnia. The person affected by this disorder sleeps for excessively longer periods during the day.
When such daytime sleepiness lasts from one to several days, and recurs after some days or months, it is called recurring hypersomnia. The condition can recur over the course of a year or more.
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Falling asleep during any activity
- Difficulty in waking up
- Sleeping 14 - 18 hours
- Excessive sleep leading to less physical activity, which in turn can lead to weight gain
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty in completing daily tasks on time
- Difficulty in following daily timetable or work routine
- Increased irritability and restlessness
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Disorientation and confusion
- Memory loss
- Lack of self-confidence
- Affected social, occupational, or other performances
- Low energy levels or constant fatigue
- Slow thinking
- Loss of appetite
The treatment depends upon the underlying cause of the sleep disorder. For example, hypersomnia caused by a tumor, head trauma, or injury to the central nervous system needs to be treated accordingly. Drug or alcohol addicts are more prone to this condition. Hence, they need to quit alcohol or stop taking the drugs.
The consumption of medications such as sedatives (tranquilizers) can lead to this condition in some cases. Also, drug withdrawal or medicine withdrawal can lead to this condition. Genetic disposition, is sometimes responsible for this type of sleep disorder.
Certain diseases like multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism, dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, or obesity can also lead to somnolence. Thus, taking into consideration the underlying cause of this disorder, doctors may prescribe medications or may suggest some lifestyle changes. Timely diagnosis plays a major role in the treatment of this condition.
Certain amphetamines, that stimulate the central nervous system are also used to treat this condition. Some medications may exhibit side effects like heart palpitations and nervousness.
People who are being treated for excessive somnolence, should strictly follow the doctor's instructions regarding lifestyle changes. They should be extremely cautious while operating any heavy machinery, and should avoid driving. Also, it is not advisable for them to work at night, or get engaged in any social activities that might delay bedtime.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.