Insomnia, or hypersomnia, is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness despite what would normally be considered sufficient (or more than adequate) amounts of sleep. Individuals with hypersomnia are more likely to experience daytime sleepiness and wake up multiple times. One’s quality of life, occupational performance, and safety are all negatively impacted by hypersomnia.
Women are more likely to suffer from hypersomnia than men. Experts estimate that 5% of the population has it. Adolescents and young adults are the typical age range for a diagnosis (the mean age is 17 to 24 years).
There are several telltale indications of hypersomnia, including:
- Daytime sleepiness is constant and recurrent.
- The ability to sleep more than ten hours on average yet still be extremely sleepy during the day.
- Sometimes appearing confused or combative when waking up in the morning (“sleep drunkenness”).
- The effects of daytime naps on alertness are not positive. Neither of them is refreshing nor restorative.
- Reduced energy levels.
- Memory problems, difficulty concentrating, slow thinking, slow speech.
- Symptoms of headache.
- Appetite loss.
- Experiencing hallucinations.
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Many cases of hypersomnia have yet to have a root cause identified. Neurotransmitters such as hypocretin/orexin, dopamine, histamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) have all been the subject of research into their possible roles in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Over 39% of people with idiopathic hypersomnia have a family history of the disorder, suggesting a probable genetic link. Certain genes involved in circadian rhythm may play a different function in idiopathic hypersomnia; therefore, researchers are looking into that as well.
Hypersomnia: How is it Diagnosed?
Your sleep doctor will want to know all about your symptoms, health, sleeping habits, and the medications you’re now taking. Your doctor may have you keep a sleep diary to record when you go to bed and get up.
Some studies need participants to wear actigraphy sensors, which look like little wristwatches and record sleep and wake patterns over a period of weeks. A sleep doctor may also recommend the following tests:
- Home sleep apnea test.
- At-home sleep study.
- Multiple sleep latency tests.
- Sleep questionnaires.
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Hypersomnia: What are the Different Types?
There are many organizations specializing in sleep medicine and psychiatry that categorize and label hypersomnia themselves, each with its unique way of doing so. The difficulty of categorizing these kinds of objects is made worse because they are constantly changing, making it even harder.
Among the various forms of hypersomnia, two are considered the most common, such as primary hypersomnia and secondary hypersomnia.
If you have secondary hypersomnia, it’s because of underlying medical conditions, such as:
- There is a medical condition that exists.
- It could be medication or alcohol that is causing the problem.
- Getting insufficient amounts of sleep (insufficient sleep syndrome).
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There are cases where hypersomnia is a primary disorder, which means that it exists as a separate medical condition. The condition itself is not caused by or is a symptom of any underlying medical disease that causes it or gives it away. There are four different conditions that are responsible for primary hypersomnias:
- Kleine-Levin syndrome
- Narcolepsy type 1
- Narcolepsy type 2
- Idiopathic hypersomnia.
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Hypersomnia: How is it Treated?
The insomnia treatment online for hypersomnia is condition-specific. Medication and behavioral modification are both viable options.
Modafinil (Provigil®), armodafinil (Nuvigil®), pitolisant, and solriamfetol are all drugs that help people stay awake. First, one of these drugs is typically tested. Keeping your follow-up sessions with your sleep doctor is crucial. Your healthcare practitioner needs to know how you’re doing so they can assess the efficacy of your prescription, determine whether a dose change is necessary, or decide if a different medication might be better.
Maintain good sleep habits. Among these are sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and strenuous activity in the hours before bed, and creating a sleep-friendly environment (a cool, dark room with comfy pillows and a bed).
Hypersomnia: Can it be Prevented?
There’s no effective way to prevent hypersomnia. Unfortunately, Hypersomnia is a chronic illness without a cure.
Are there any ways to cope with hypersomnia better?
If you want to get better sleep, stay safe, and reduce your risk of injury or accident, you might want to modify your daily routine. Options include:
- Maintain a regular bedtime schedule. To get a good night’s sleep, your bedroom should have adequate ventilation, a cool temperature, be dark and quiet, and feature a mattress, pillows, sheets, and blankets that you find comfortable.
- Keep your caffeine intake low for several hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, and even over-the-counter medications.
- Don’t drink anything alcoholic before bed. Alcohol is a depressant, so it may seem like it would help you fall asleep, but it actually leads to awakenings as the body digests it, and it is also commonly linked to night terrors and night sweats.
- Don’t use tobacco or nicotine products right before bed. Among stimulants, nicotine ranks highly.
- Check with your sleep doctor for advice on any foods or medications you should try to avoid.
- Motor vehicles and other potentially dangerous machinery require extra precautions. You can help ensure your and others’ safety by working with your healthcare providers, family members, and employers to make necessary adjustments.
- Stay away from the night shift if you can.
To learn how to manage the challenges of hypersomnia, it may be beneficial to speak with a therapist or psychologist and join a support group. Talk to your doctor about sleep if you need help finding a support group or referrals. Don’t go through these counseling sessions alone; invite your loved ones. Your relationships will improve if you educate others about hypersomnia, commonly misunderstood as a sign of laziness or incompetence.
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Even if you get enough sleep at night, you may still be unable to maintain wakefulness and alertness throughout the day, which can negatively affect your quality of life and put you and others at risk.
Check with your sleep medicine doctor or contact a doctor online if these symptoms sound familiar. Your symptoms may respond to several pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. SleepRx offers ways to manage hypersomnia better, such as educating about it, treating it, and helping you and your loved ones cope better.