Sleep is such an integral part of our lives, but it’s something many of us put little thought into. We need adequate, quality sleep to be healthy and thrive, yet for many of us, getting restful sleep is more difficult than it might seem. And for a select few, conditions like hypersomnia can lead to some pretty scary situations. If you’re asking “what is hypersomnia”, you can find more information below.
What is Hypersomnia?
Hypersomnia is a condition that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. Hypersomnia sufferers often have a hard time staying awake during the day, and can fall asleep at virtually any time – even while driving. In this way, the condition is similar to narcolepsy – although there are some differences. Hypersomnia is actually quite common, affecting around 5% of the population. It’s more common in men than in women.
There are two types of hypersomnia: primary and secondary. Primary hypersomnia is quite rare, affecting around 1% of the population. Primary hypersomnia is a term that can refer to a category of disorders including narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, and Klein-Levin syndrome. Secondary hypersomnia, on the other hand, is much more prevalent, and does not necessarily constitute an actual sleep disorder or disease. Secondary hypersomnia can be caused by depression, obesity, epilepsy, etc.
What are the Symptoms of Hypersomnia?
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Desire to take long naps during the day
- Difficulty waking up
- Decreased energy
- Brain fog
- Slowed speech
- Low appetite
- Memory loss
As you can guess by the list of hypersomnia symptoms, this condition can cause some serious issues in the patients life. Many hypersomnia sufferers find it difficult to function in day to day life, and their symptoms can wreak havoc on their personal and professional lives.
What are the Causes of Hypersomnia?
Hypersomnia does not have a clear-cut cause in most cases. Medical research has outlined several potential causes, but in many cases, doctors are unable to tell definitively what is causing a patient’s hypersomnia symptoms. Some potential causes include:
- Existing sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea
- Inadequate sleep at night/sleep deprivation
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis
- A head injury
- Certain prescription drugs, including tranquilizers
What are the Hypersomnia Treatment Options?
Treatment of hypersomnia will vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition, which can be difficult to define in some situations. In severe cases where the patient is falling asleep regularly, they may be prescribed amphetamines or other prescription drugs to help keep them awake.
In some situations, simply taking steps to improve sleep quality can also lessen the symptoms of hypersomnia. Practicing proper sleep hygiene and undergoing behavioral therapy can be beneficial to hypersomnia sufferers.
How Can I Learn More?
This guide is intended to answer the question, what is hypersomnia, and serve as an introduction to the topic. If you are interested in learning more, the Hypersomnia Foundation is an excellent resource. If you are consistently sleepy during the day, and believe you may have hypersomnia or a related condition, it’s important to speak with your doctor. Online research is great, but it cannot deliver the same level of personalized advice and treatment that a trained doctor can provide.