Problem Sleepiness

Problem sleepiness facts*

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*Problem sleepiness facts medical author:

  • Problem sleepiness occurs when sleepiness during the day interferes with work or social functioning.
  • Symptoms of problem sleepiness may include difficulty concentrating, falling asleep while driving, or problems with emotional control.
  • There are a number of causes of problem sleepiness, including sleep disorders; other medical conditions; certain medications; substances like drugs, alcohol, or caffeine; or an altered sleep-wake cycle.
  • Sleep disorders include narcolepsy, insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.
  • Sleepiness is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents, poor school performance, and depressed mood.
  • Shift workers are especially susceptible to sleepiness and its risks.
  • Treatment may consist of improving sleep hygiene and avoiding precipitating factors.

What is problem sleepiness?

Everyone feels sleepy at times. However, when sleepiness interferes with daily routines and activities, or reduces the ability to function, it is called "problem sleepiness." A person can be sleepy without realizing it. For example, a person may not feel sleepy during activities such as talking and listening to music at a party, but the same person can fall asleep while driving home afterward.

What are the symptoms of problem sleepiness?

You may have problem sleepiness if you:

  • consistently do not get enough sleep, or get poor quality sleep;
  • fall asleep while driving;
  • struggle to stay awake when inactive, such as when watching television or reading;
  • have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school, or home;
  • have performance problems at work or school;
  • are often told by others that you are sleepy;
  • have difficulty remembering;
  • have slowed responses;
  • have difficulty controlling your emotions; or
  • must take naps on most days.

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Problem Sleepiness - Treatment Question: What are the causes of your problem sleepiness and which treatments have you tried?
Problem Sleepiness - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with problem sleepiness.
Problem Sleepiness - Symptoms Question: Describe other symptoms associated with your problem sleepiness.
Problem Sleepiness - Medical Conditions and Drugs Question: Please describe a medical condition or drug that may have caused your problem sleepiness.
Problem Sleepiness - Adolescents Question: Are you a teen or college student with signs of problem sleepiness? Please share your story.
Problem Sleepiness - Shift Work Question: Do you work the late shift or perform shift work? If so, please describe your sleep problems.

How to Stay Awake Naturally

By Camille Peri
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

With more and more of us getting less and less sleep, it's tempting to reach for a Red Bull or an espresso when we feel sleepy at work. But consuming caffeine to combat sleepiness can lead to a vicious cycle.

The java jolt that helps you stay awake can take up to eight hours to wear off. Caffeine can also reduce your sleep time, alter the normal stages of sleep, and decrease the quality of your sleep.

How can you stay awake naturally? Try some of these 12 jitter-free tips to take the edge off sleepiness.

1. Get Up and Move Around to Feel Awake

In one well-known study, Robert Thayer, PhD, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, studied whether people were more energized by eating a candy bar or taking a brisk 10-minute walk. Though the candy bar provided a quick energy boost, participants were actually more tired and had less energy an hour later. The 10-minute walk increased energy for two hours. That's because walking pumps oxygen through your veins, brain, and muscles.

If you work at a desk, get up frequently for short walks. At meal breaks, walk to a restaurant or, if you bring your lunch, head for a nice spot to eat it. Whether you take a walk outside or just in the building where you work, it will make you feel more alert and refreshed....


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