Hypersomnia is a disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness. It is a condition that is opposite to insomnia, in which people have trouble staying awake during the day. People who have hypersomnia are able to fall asleep at any point in time, whether it be during work or while they’re driving. The National Sleep Foundation has reported that up to 40% of Americans have experienced hypersomnia symptoms at some point in their life.
Symptoms: Hypersomnia causes people to experience prolonged periods of sleep, in which they have difficulty waking up from and feel disoriented when doing so. People with hypersomnia may sleep up to 12 hours per night but still need to take frequent naps during the day. These naps can occur at any point: during work, while they’re enjoying a meal or during a normal conversation. While napping is a reaction to excessive daytime sleepiness, they usually provide no relief from the symptoms.
Other symptoms can include anxiety, hallucinations, slow speech and thinking, decreased energy, loss of appetite, trouble with memory, restlessness and increased irritability.
These symptoms may have a profound impact on their family, social and occupational relationships, as a person may have difficulty functioning in these settings. The symptoms usually appear in young adolescence or early adulthood and can be categorized in two different ways: primary hypersomnia and recurrent hypersomnia.
Primary hypersomnia is when a person displays symptoms steadily for months or even years. Someone who suffers from recurrent hypersomnia may experience symptoms many times throughout the year mixed with normal sleep cycles.
Causes: Hypersomnia may be caused by an array of conditions and disorders. Brain damage, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, and depression have all been linked to hypersomnia. Additionally, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder can play a role in hypersomnia. Sleep deprivation, being overweight, certain medications, head injuries, drug or alcohol abuse and genetics are more causes associated with the sleep disorder as well.
If you are constantly feeling drowsy during the day, it is important that you speak to your doctor. If you are diagnosed with hypersomnia, your doctor will be able to prescribe medications or other treatments that will best counteract the causes of your excessive daytime sleepiness. If you or anyone you know has dealt with hypersomnia, please feel free to share your experience in the comments.