Have you ever felt sleepy during the day despite getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep at night?
This is a very common problem that can be caused by many factors, including anxiety or stress. However, when the episodes become recurrent and last for at least a month, it could be hypersomnia. Learn here everything about this disorder and how you can treat it.
What is hypersomnia?
Hypersomnia or hypersomnia is a condition in which the person feels excessive sleepiness during the day, even after long periods of sleep.
This disorder is also known as excessive daytime sleepiness, and it is estimated that between 4 and 6% of the population suffers from it.
While the tiredness it causes can make you want to sleep in infrequent places like work or away from home, it shouldn’t be confused with narcolepsy, a neurological condition that causes sudden, unpreventable sleep attacks during the day. People with hypersomnia may stay awake on their own, even though they feel fatigued.
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Depending on the relationship with other medical conditions, hypersomnia can be primary or secondary. The primary is characterized by excessive fatigue without the intervention of another medical factor.
Secondary, on the other hand, is usually due to other problems, such as kidney failure, chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, sleep apnea, heart disease, or low thyroid function.
This condition is thought to arise as a result of a series of problems in the brain systems responsible for controlling waking and sleeping functions. The American Sleep Association (ASA) reports that it is more common in men than women.
It can also be due to the use of certain medications whose side effects include drowsiness, frequent drug or alcohol use, or head injuries.
Its main symptoms are: anxiety, difficulty remembering, restlessness, irritability, slow thinking or speech, loss of appetite and little or no energy.
how to treat it
The researchers warn that there is no precise way to prevent hypersomnia, although taking certain measures can help reduce its incidence, such as creating pleasant environments to rest or avoiding the use of narcotics.
If you have doubts about the effects that a medication may be causing, you can consult your doctor, but never stop taking it on your own.
Hypersomnia is not a life-threatening condition, although it is capable of affecting a person’s quality of life.
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If it interferes with the development of your routine, you should consult a professional. The Mayo Clinic notes that your doctor will likely order several tests to diagnose the disorder, determine the cause, and rule out other conditions:
- sleep diary: It is used to record the times when you sleep and when you are awake, so that you can indicate what your sleep patterns are.
- Epworth sleepiness scale: is a tool used to classify the degree of sleepiness, and thus help determine how sleep affects your daily life.
- polysomnography: To perform this test you must stay in a sleep center for one night. A device called a polysomnograph is used to monitor brain activity, eye and leg movements, heart rate, breathing functions, and oxygen levels while you sleep.
- multiple sleep latency test: This test measures sleepiness, as well as the types and stages of sleep you experience during daytime naps. It is usually done the day after polysomnography.
Since the specific causes of this disorder are unknown, treatment is usually aimed at relieving symptoms.
You may be prescribed stimulant medications, such as modafinil (Provigil), amphetamines, or methylphenidate, to help you stay awake during the day.
Lifestyle changes are also a critical part of the treatment process. Professionals recommend:
- Adopt regular sleep schedules.
- Do not drink alcohol at night.
- Avoid drug use.
- Feed yourself correctly, that is, include a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, cereals and seeds.
In this way you will obtain energy naturally to achieve optimal functioning during the day, both physically and mentally.
Sources consulted: American Sleep Association (ASA), US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.