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Hypersomnia: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Hypersomnia causes and symptoms. Illustration

Hypersomnia is a condition in which you find it hard to stay awake during the day. It is also called excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS. You can experience it even after a full night’s sleep.

Studies show that one-third of Americans suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day. Feeling sleepy in the daytime might interfere with your work. You might feel tired and find it difficult to concentrate.

Hypersomnia might be a primary condition or indicate some other illness that might require immediate medical attention. This blog will walk you through the causes, symptoms, and everything you should know about excessive sleepiness.

What is Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is a medical condition in which a person feels excessively tired and sleepy during the day. The affected person might sleep longer than usual. Moreover, they can fall asleep anywhere and at any time- at work or even while traveling.

Types of Hypersomnia

You can have two types of hypersomnia – primary and secondary. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Primary Hypersomnia

It occurs on its own and does not denote any underlying medical conditions. People living with Hypersomnia or idiopathic hypersomnia might find it difficult to wake up from a nap. Naps are short and refreshing for others. However, if you have idiopathic hypersomnia, it can be long and leave you tired.

What is Idiopathic Hypersomnia? It is a type of primary hypersomnia. It is a chronic neurological disorder where you don’t feel refreshed even after sleeping for long hours.

Secondary Hypersomnia

It generally denotes an underlying medical condition. Here, the hypersomnia causes might include medication, psychiatric disorders, etc. If your hypersomnia is due to underlying medical conditions, you should consult a doctor immediately.

Causes of Hypersomnia

Due to medication or alcohol

If your doctor has prescribed sedatives, you might experience hypersomnia. Consumption of alcohol can also lead to excessive sleepiness. At times, withdrawal from stimulants can also cause hypersomnia.

Due to underlying disorders

Conditions like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, or hypothyroidism can lead to excessive sleepiness. Brain injuries, tumors, and other illnesses of the nervous system might also cause hypersomnia.

Hypersomnia related to psychiatric disorder

If you have bipolar disorder, depression, or other mood disorders, you might feel excessively sleepy most of the time.

Insufficient sleep syndrome

Insufficient sleep syndrome is one of the most common causes of hypersomnia. You are likely to experience it if you continuously fail to get proper sleep at night. 

Narcolepsy

If we compare hypersomnia vs narcolepsy, the symptoms are similar. However, there are some crucial differences. For instance, narcolepsy might be accompanied by cataplexy ( loss of muscle control), sleep paralysis, or sleep apnea. But hypersomnia doesn’t have these symptoms.

Symptoms of Hypersomnia

Symptoms of Hypersomnia. Illustration

One of the main hypersomnia symptoms includes excessive tiredness. You will have difficulty staying awake throughout the day. However, there are some other idiopathic hypersomnia symptoms too. They include:

  • You become irritated easily
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Foggy mind
  • Difficulty in thinking
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty in remembering
  • Excessive restlessness

How is Hypersomnia Diagnosed?

Before knowing the treatment of hypersomnia, you should know how it is diagnosed. Your doctor will look at your symptoms and medical history. They might also perform some tests to assess the severity of your sleep disorder.

Some diagnostic tests for hypersomnia include-

  • Epworth sleepiness cycle: You have to rate your sleepiness to help them understand the severity of the problem.
  • Sleep diary: You track your sleeping patterns throughout the day. Read our article here to know more about sleep patterns.
  • Multiple sleep latency test: You take a monitored nap to record your sleep experiences.
  • Polysomnogram: In this process, a machine monitors your heart rate, brain activity, eye movements, and oxygen level while sleeping. For that, you need to stay at a sleep centre for a night.

How is Hypersomnia Treated?

If you ask how to treat hypersomnia, there is no one answer to the question. Your hypersomnia treatment process will depend on the causes of your disorder.

Your doctor might prescribe stimulants or antidepressants. Provigil and Xyrem are some new medicines used in the treatment of hypersomnia. However, it is better not to consume them without your doctor’s prescription.

Bringing some lifestyle changes can help you beat hypersomnia. Your doctor might suggest you follow a specific sleep schedule so that you get enough sleep. That will prevent you from feeling tired throughout the day.

Prohibiting the consumption of alcohol can also speed up the process of hypersomnia cure. If you take any medicines that cause drowsiness, you might consider asking your physician to replace them.

How to Prevent Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is one of the most common types of sleeping disorders. But, how can you prevent it? Well, you cannot prevent some types of hypersomnia. However, you can adopt certain habits to reduce their chances.

Going to bed early will help you get adequate sleep, and you will not feel drained and exhausted throughout the day. You should also avoid taking alcohol to improve your sleep cycle. Moreover, doing away with medicines like sedatives will also help.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know what causes hypersomnia and how to prevent it, you must take steps to mend your sleep schedule. Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to stay active and energetic throughout the day. 

If your condition is severe and mere lifestyle changes aren’t helping, don’t delay reaching out to your physician.

FAQs

Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder. It is a pathological condition in which you experience problems in staying alert during the day. However, living with idiopathic hypersomnia may be pointing to an underlying mental health conditon like anxiety and depression.

An average adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.

No, weight gain is not a symptom of hypersomnia. However, some hypersomnia medications may have side effects on your body, leading to weight gain.

Hypersomnolence disorder and narcolepsy are not the same thing. They might have similar symptoms. However, narcolepsy might be accompanied by sleep paralysis and loss of muscle control, which don’t occur in hypersomnia.

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Sleep Consultant with extensive experience who has assisted hundreds of parents with their children’s sleep issues. She also works with adults to educate, support, and motivate them to sleep better.
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Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

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Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by healh experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians