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- Patient Comments: Hypersomnia - Treatment
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Introduction to Hypersomnia
Hypersomnia, or excessive sleepiness, is a condition in which a person has trouble staying awake during the day. People who have hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time; for instance, at work or while they are driving. They may also have other sleep-related problems, including a lack of energy and trouble thinking clearly.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 40% of people have some symptoms of hypersomnia from time to time.
What Causes Hypersomnia?
There are several potential causes of hypersomnia, including:
- The sleep disorders narcolepsy (daytime sleepiness) and sleep apnea
(interruptions of breathing during sleep)
- Not getting enough sleep at night (sleep deprivation)
- Being overweight
- Drug or
- A head injury or a neurological disease, such as multiple sclerosis
- Prescription drugs, such as tranquilizers
- Genetics (having a relative with hypersomnia)
How Is Hypersomnia Diagnosed?
If you consistently feel drowsy during the day, talk to your doctor. In making a diagnosis of hypersomnia, your doctor will ask you about your sleeping habits, how much sleep you get at night, if you wake up at night, and whether you fall asleep during the day. Your doctor will also want to know if you are having any emotional problems or are taking any medications that may be interfering with your sleep.
Your doctor may also order some tests, including blood tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, and a sleep test called polysomnography. In some cases, an additional electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures the electrical activity of the brain, is needed.
How Is Hypersomnia Treated?
If you are diagnosed with hypersomnia, your doctor can prescribe various drugs to treat it, including stimulants, antidepressants, as well as several newer medications (for example, Provigil and Xyrem).
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe a treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. With CPAP, you wear a mask over your nose while you are sleeping. A machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nostrils is hooked up to the mask. The pressure from air flowing into the nostrils helps keep the airways open.
If you are taking a medication that causes drowsiness, ask your doctor about changing the medication to one that is less likely to make you sleepy. You may also want to go to bed earlier to try to get more sleep at night, and eliminate alcohol and caffeine.
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A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
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- Concentration or memory problems
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Sleep Aids And Stimulants
Insomnia is difficulty in falling or staying asleep, the absence of restful sleep, or poor quality of sleep. Insomnia is a symptom and not a disease. The most common causes of insomnia are medications, psychological conditions, environmental changes and stressful events. Treatments may include non-drug treatments, over-the-counter medicines, and/or prescription medications.
Sleep apnea is defined as a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. The three types of sleep apnea are central apnea, obstructive apnea (OSA), and a mixture of central and obstructive apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain to activate the muscles of breathing during sleep. OSA is caused by the collapse of the airway during sleep. OSA is diagnosed and evaluated through patient history, physical examination and polysomnography. There are many complications related to obstructive sleep apnea. Treatments are surgical and non-surgical.
Sleep DisordersLearn about the different types of sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Explore the symptoms, causes, tests and treatments of sleep disorders.
Sleep QuizTake our Sleeping Quiz to learn which sleep disorders, causes, and symptoms rule the night. Trouble falling or staying asleep? Find out which medical treatments fight sleep deprivation, apnea, insomnia, and more!