In recent months, as part of our programSleep 101‘, we discussed the many reasons why a person might find it challenging catch some eyes and the various things you can do to get a restful night’s sleep. However, despite sleeping like a baby, many continue to feel excessively sleepy during the day and end up sleep more than necessary. Although this may seem harmless, it is actually a medical condition called “hypersomnia”.
“Hypersomnia or excessive sleepiness refers to the condition where a person cannot stay awake during the day despite getting an adequate amount of sleep at night. This can cause difficulty in performing daily tasks,” said Dr. Vipul Gupta, Chief, Neurointerventional Surgery and Co-Head, Stroke Unit, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram.
However, hypersomnia must be differentiated from just feeling sleepy during the day, which can be caused by poor sleep the night. “Hypersomnia is excessive sleepiness and must be distinguished from excessive daytime sleepiness. In hypersomnia, a person, despite having a good sleep of about 7-8 hours, still feels tired during the day and continues to sleep. I end up exceeding the normal sleep requirement,” said Dr. Ravindra Mehta, senior pulmonologist, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore.
Causes and effects
If poor sleep at night is not the main trigger behind hypersomnia, then what causes it? “Common causes include drug effects, genetic predisposition, narcolepsyand obstructive sleep apnea,” said Dr. Mehta. In older people, hypersomnia can be caused by lung disease, neurological problems, and brain problems, among other reasons.
Dr Gupta explained that there is no particular cause for hypersomnia. “Several studies have suggested that hypersomnia could be triggered by another sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, because it causes someone to stay awake at night, leading to fatigue and insufficient sleep,” he said.
Adding, Dr Navneet Sood, Senior Consultant and Clinical Lead, Pulmonary, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, said: “Hypersomnia can be caused by another sleep disorder (such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea), autonomic nervous system dysfunction or drug or alcohol addiction. In some circumstances, it is caused by a medical condition, such as a tumor, head trauma, or injury to the central nervous system.
In addition to sleeping more than usual, hypersomnia sufferers may experience anxiety, decreased energy and in some cases, headaches, restlessness and loss of appetite. “Hypersomnia can cause problems in the way the brain works because one feels tired and exhausted all the time. It becomes difficult to concentrate and think about certain things, causing people with hypersomnia to fall back in life,” added Dr Gupta.
It also affects your ability to function at work and in social situations, lowers your quality of life and increases your risk of accidents, Dr. Sood noted.
Who is more likely to suffer from hypersomnia?
According to experts, the following groups of people are more susceptible to this condition.
*It is usually diagnosed in adolescence or early adulthood (17 to 24 years).
*FEMALES are more likely than men to suffer from hypersomnia.
Prevention and treatment
Experts note that while hypersomnia cannot always be prevented because it is a chronic disease, a variety of changes can be made in one’s schedule to better cope with the condition. “By creating a pleasant sleeping environment and avoiding alcohol, you can reduce your chances of hypersomnia. Also, avoid taking medication for drowsiness and working late at night,” said Dr Sood.
If you suffer from hypersomnia, treatment options vary depending on the cause. “Many drugs for narcolepsy can also be used to treat hypersomnia. Amphetamine, methylphenidate, and modafinil are some examples. These are stimulants that make you feel more alert. Lifestyle changes include a normal sleep routine and no alcohol or drugs. A doctor may also recommend a nutrient-dense diet to maintain energy levels naturally,” he concluded.
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