Hypersomnia: Constant Sleepiness

In a country where a full 1/5 of adults do not get enough sleep, being tired sounds like the norm! In our last post, we talked about the dangers of sleep deprivation. But what if you’re still tired despite the fact that you’re sleeping enough, or even more than normal? This condition of being constantly sleepy and perhaps sleeping excessively is called hypersomnia. 

What is Hypersomnia?

“Sleep Drunkenness”

People with hypersomnia experience excessive daytime sleepiness. They frequently feel the need to nap during the day. Even when they do sleep, people with hypersomnia do not feel more alert or less tired. They experience unrefreshing sleep and sleep drunkenness (having a hard time waking up from sleep, accompanied by grogginess and disorientation). Victims report great difficulty in arousing from sleep, which can cause considerable difficulty in meeting school, job, and life responsibilities.1 

There are a variety of causes of hypersomnia. it can be the result of another sleep disorder, like sleep apnea or narcolepsy. It can also result from drug or alcohol abuse, or a physical problem like head trauma. It can even be the result of a problem with the nervous system (read below).

Idiopathic Hypersomnia: A Natural Anesthetic

Idiopathic Hypersomnia is a specific type of hypersomnia. It appears to be caused by a nervous system dysfunction that causes the nervous system to produce a small molecule. Though the composition of this molecule is not entirely known, it essentially acts like an anesthetic on the brain.

Diagnosis

Most cases of hypersomnia take a long time to diagnose properly. Affected teenagers may just be thought to be suffering from normal teenage shifts in circadian rhythms that make it difficult for them to rise in the morning. Others may be accused of just being lazy, having poor sleeping habits, or of being afflicted by depression. 

Since hypersomnia has so many possible causes, it may take a consulation with your doctor to figure out what is triggering your excessive sleepiness and how best to approach it. If you constantly feel tired despire getting your recommended hours of sleep, it is important to talk to a doctor. Some possible treatments include medications that were developed to reverse anesthesia, stimulants, and oddly enough, sleeping medication at night to improve the quality of sleep. 

Note: This post was originally published on June 6, 2015. It was revised for accuracy on June 10, 2015. 

Request a sleep study

Sources: 

1) Hypersomnia Foundation 
2) Medline Plus: National Institutes of Health 

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  1. Health Articles Reply

    Very informative article. thanks for share.

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