Are you getting plenty of sleep at night but still have trouble staying awake and alert throughout the day? If so, you may be one of 4%-6% of people who suffer from hypersomnia, otherwise known as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).

Hypersomnia can present challenges in your work, social, and home life. Excessive sleepiness can affect your ability to function, affect your quality of life, and increase your chance of accidents. Keep reading to learn more about hypersomnia, its causes, treatments, and how to manage it.

Types of Hypersomnia

Although different organizations use different classification systems for hypersomnia, there are two main types, primary and secondary hypersomnia.

Primary Hypersomnia

Primary hypersomnia is a condition in itself. There are four classifications of primary hypersomnia.

  1. Narcolepsy type 1, also known as narcolepsy with cataplexy (muscle weakness caused by emotions), is caused by low levels of hypocretin, a hormone that regulate sleep and appetite. Narcolepsy type 1 typically begins between the ages of ten and twenty-five, and it is common for people with narcolepsy type 1 to experience sleep paralysis and hallucinations.
  2. Narcolepsy type 2 doesn’t include cataplexy. The symptoms are less severe, and hypocretin levels are normal. Narcolepsy type 2 begins around adolescence.
  3. Kleine-Levin Syndrome usually occurs with behavioral, psychiatric, and mental issues and consists of recurring episodes of severe hypersomnia. Episodes can last from ten days to months and recur multiple times a year. Young men are mainly affected, and episodes tend to decrease over the age of eight.
  4. Idiopathic hyposomnia causes extreme sleepiness for an unknown reason, even if you’ve had a sufficient amount of sleep.

Secondary Hypersomnia

Secondary hypersomnia is the result of another known cause. Some of which include:

    • Medical conditions — Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, encephalitis, Parkinson’s Disease, obesity, delayed sleep phase syndrome, multiple systems atrophy, mental disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism can cause hypersomnia. It can also be caused by tumors, central nervous system diseases, and head trauma.
  • Alcohol and medication — Sedatives, anti-epileptic medications, anti-hypertensive medications, anti-parkinsonian agents, antipsychotics, opiates, alcohol, and cannabis can cause hypersomnia.
  • Lack of sleep — You can also get hypersomnia if you aren’t getting enough sleep. In general, adults should try to sleep for seven to nine hours a night.

Causes of Hypersomnia

While there is no known cause at this time for hypersomnia, researchers are looking into how neurotransmitters in the brain affect those with hypersomnia. It is also possible that it is a genetic condition since approximately 39% of those with idiopathic hypersomnia have a family history. 

Symptoms of Hypersomnia

While the main symptom of hypersomnia is excessive sleepiness, other symptoms may also be present. Some of which include:

  • Napping throughout the day and still being drowsy
  • Difficulting waking after sleeping for an extended period
  • Decreased energy
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite loss
  • Slow speech or thinking
  • Memory problems
  • Restlessness

Diagnosis of Hypersomnia

The diagnosis of hypersomnia will come from a sleep specialist. They will ask about your symptoms, medical and sleep history, and any medications you are currently taking. In addition, you may be asked to keep a sleep diary to document your sleep and wake patterns. An actigraphy sensor (a small device that looks like a watch) can also be used to track any disruptions to your sleep-wake cycle.

Your sleep specialist may also recommend the following tests:

  • Polysomnography — A sleep study to measure brain waves, breathing, heart rhythms, and muscle movements as you sleep.
  • Multiple sleep latency test — A daytime sleep test that records the tendency of a person to fall asleep.
  • Sleep questionnaires — Questionnaires such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale can help rate your sleepiness.

Treatment for Hypersomnia

Depending on the cause of your hypersomnia, wakefulness-promoting medication and lifestyle changes such as creating and maintaining good sleep habits can be used as a treatment. If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be prescribed a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which will help keep your airways open and allow you to get a good night’s sleep.

DreamZz Sleep Center Can Help You Sleep Well

Hypersomnia is not a life-threatening condition, but it can significantly impact your quality of life. Although some forms of hypersomnia are not preventable, you can reduce the risk of hypersomnia by avoiding alcohol and creating a quiet, relaxing sleeping environment.

DreamZz Sleep Center can help you get to the bottom of your hypersomnia. The Dream Team will help provide relief from your sleep issues in as little as one month. Our knowledgeable, fellowship-trained, and Sleep Medicine board-certified physician will provide you with information on your symptoms and treatment options.

Contact us today to schedule your consultation.