Sleep Disorders: What is Hypersomnia?

While most people are familiar with insomnia far fewer understand its counterpart, hypersomnia. What is hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is a condition where the afflicted individual finds it hard to resist sleep in the daytime. Those afflicted with hypersomnia may drift to sleep at any hour of the day. This means they could fall asleep at work or even while operating a motor vehicle. They can also have other sleep-related problems such as trouble focusing and low energy.

Studies conclude that about forty percent of all people exhibit some signs of hypersomnia at some time in their life.

Causes of Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia can occur in many ways, and medical professionals aren’t always sure what causes hypersomnia in some individuals. The potential causes include:

  • Sleep apnea (episodes of obstructed breathing)
  • Narcolepsy (feeling sleepy in the day)
  • Lack of nighttime sleep
  • Obesity
  • The abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • A neurological disorder like multiple sclerosis, or head injuries
  • Prescribed medications like tranquilizers
  • A relative with hypersomnia (genetics)

Hypersomnia Diagnosis

There are several ways that a doctor may diagnose hypersomnia.

  1. If you feel constant drowsiness throughout the day, you should contact a doctor immediately. When you are being diagnosed for hypersomnia, some questions will be asked about the amount of sleep you obtain per night, your sleeping habits, if you fall asleep in the day time, and if you wake in the middle of the night.
  2. Your doctor will need some information on any emotional complications.
  3. You will be asked to list the medicine you take, as they may get in the way of sleep.
  4. Some tests may be conducted such as CT scans (computed tomography), blood tests, and a polysomnography (sleep test). There may be an extra test, which is an EEG. EEG stands for electroencephalogram. It assesses the electrical activity inside your brain.

Treatments for Hypersomnia

Doctors can prescribe an array of medications in order to treat hypersomnia. These can be stimulants, antidepressants, or a selection of more modern drugs such as Xyrem and Provigil. Consultation with a MD that is a sleep specialist is very important as there are different treatments available for the person with hypersomnia.

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