The Flip Side of Insomnia: Hypersomnia

For some people, it is not a matter of an inability to fall asleep and stay sleeping, but rather their bodies cannot seem to get enough sleep. A person suffering from hypersomnia has trouble staying awake, and experiences excessive sleepiness throughout the day. This can create problems by interfering with the person’s ability to stay focused and carry out daily tasks. Hypersomniacs can fall asleep at any time, which can place them in harms way, creating dangerous conditions if they are at work or operating a motor vehicle.

The condition of hypersomnia can stem from other sleep related conditions and causes. People who have narcolepsy, which causes erratic daytime sleep patterns, will also experience hypersomnia since both contribute to intermittent sleep. Sleep apnea, a condition where one stops breathing briefly while sleeping, causes the person to receive inadequate amounts of sleep at night, which can steer the person into the condition of hypersomnia during the hours of daytime. Sleep deprivation, possibly due to insomnia, causes a person to not get enough sleep at night, making them prone to hypersomnia by day. There are also certain neurological diseases that can bring with it symptoms such the ones associated with hypersomnia. Other causes may be linked to obesity, drug and alcohol use, and certain prescribed medications.

If you persistently experience daytime drowsiness that causes an inability to stay focused or awake, you should consult your physician for proper diagnosis. When the symptoms first surface, you may wish to begin a sleep diary, which will become an instrumental tool in helping your physician monitor, diagnose, and treat your sleep disorder. In order to diagnose you, your physician will ask questions about your sleep habits, including the amount of sleep you get, if you wake often throughout the night, and if you are falling asleep often during the day. Along with a history of your sleep patterns, your physician will want to know your emotional status, stress status, and the names of medications you are taking. Part of properly diagnosing hypersomnia might include blood tests, CT scan, electroencephalogram (EEG), and other sleep tests like the polysomnography. In some cases, you may even be recommended to undergo sleep studies at a sleep disorder center.

When the diagnosis of hypersomnia is made, your physician might prescribe medications to treat your conditions. Medications used can be stimulants, antidepressants, or newer medications. If the hypersomnia is due to another condition like sleep apnea, the course of treatment will be aimed at treating and controlling the sleep apnea. Simpler treatments can come from making changes to your routine. You may want to go to sleep earlier and increase your hours of sleep at night. Lessening or eliminating your intake of caffeine and alcohol, can also help prevent hypersomnia.

Getting adequate sleep is important for maintaining health and wellness. Hypersomnia can affect your life in serious ways by affecting your attitude and moods, and creating a potential for dangerous accidents. So, if you are experiencing symptoms related to a sleep disorder, you should seek out medical attention.

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