- Sleep Disorders: Hypersomnia Center
- Causes of Fatigue Slideshow Pictures
- Sleep Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
- Sleep Slideshow: Foods That Help or Harm Your Sleep
- Patient Comments: Hypersomnia - Causes
- Patient Comments: Hypersomnia - Experience
- Patient Comments: Hypersomnia - Treatment
- Find a local Sleep Specialist in your town
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)
Quick GuideSleep Disorders: Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and More
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.
Michael W. Smith, MD on September 14, 2008.
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2008
Daily Health News
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2008
Top Hypersomnia Related Articles
Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismAlcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
CAT ScanA CT scan is an X-ray procedure that combines many X-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional and three-dimensional images of internal organs and structures of the body. A CT scan is a low-risk procedure. Contrast material may be injected into a vein or the spinal fluid to enhance the scan.
EEG - ElectroencephalogramAn Electroencephalogram also called an EEG, is a test that can help diagnose epilepsy. The electrical signals of the brain are recorded during an EEG. This electrical activity is detected by electrodes or sensors, placed on the patient's scalp and transmitted to a polygraph that records the activity. Electrical signals produced by the brain neurons are picked up by the electrodes and transmitted to a polygraph, where they produce separate graphs on moving paper using an ink writing pen or on a computer screen.
Foods that Harm SleepCould a good night's sleep come down to your diet? Discover which foods stop sleep and which foods promote restful slumber.
Genetic DiseaseThe definition of a genetic disease is a disorder or condition caused by abnormalities in a person's genome. Some types of genetic inheritance include single inheritance, including:
- cystic fibrosis,
- sickle cell anemia,
- Marfan syndrome,
- and hemochromatosis.
Head InjuryIn the United States, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability. Head injuries due to bleeding are generally classified by the location of the blood within the skull, these include:
- epidural hematoma,
- subdural hematoma,
- subarachnoid bleed,
- intracranial bleed,
- sheer injury, edema, and
- skull fracture.
- bleeding from the ear,
- speech difficulties,
- difficulty swallowing, and
- body numbness.
MRI ScanMRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique which uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. MRI scanning is painless and does not involve X-ray radiation. Patients with heart pacemakers, metal implants, or metal chips or clips in or around the eyes cannot be scanned with MRI because of the effect of the magnet.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Obesity (Weight Loss)Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is considered a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMDD has also been referred to as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder. The cause of PMDD is unknown. Some of the common symptoms of PMDD (not an inclusive list) include:
- mood swings,
- breast tenderness,
- hot flashes
- and more.
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.
Take the 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!