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What is Hypersomnia?

Posted On September 23, 2015
September 23, 2015

Do you have trouble staying awake during the day? Do you find yourself falling asleep at various times of the day? Doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you are able to grab, these problems still occur. If this describes you or someone you know, you might be suffering from a condition known as hypersomnia. Characterized by heightened sleepiness, individuals with hypersomnia can fall asleep anywhere at any time. It doesn’t matter if he or she is at work or behind the wheel of a car.

Closer Look at Hypersomnia
Almost 40 percent of people surveyed by the National Sleep Foundation have had some instance of hypersomnia in their lives. People afflicted with hypersomnia tend to be fatigued, lack energy and can’t concentrate, which are all sleep-related symptoms.

There are quite a number of causes of hypersomnia, but topping the list are two sleep disorders, narcolepsy and sleep apnea. Other factors that can precipitate excessive sleepiness are the following: sleep deprivation, obesity, multiple scler osis (and other neurological diseases), alcohol and drugs, and family history. Narcoleptics fall asleep suddenly throughout the day. And with sleep apnea, an obstructed airway results in breathing stoppage multiple times during an hour at night. This interrupted breathing prevents sound sleep and in turn can prompt sleepiness during the day.

Research conducted at Emory University School of Medicine with results published in Science Translational Medicinediscovered people who had an overwhelming need to sleep at inappropriate times had a sleeping pill-like substance in their cerebrospinal fluid. Basically this substance triggers a reaction that boosts the effects of GABA or gamma-amino-butyric acid in the brain, which is similar to the mechanism of how sedatives and alcohol work.

In order to properly diagnose hypersomnia, your physician might ask you to keep a sleep journal. It is important to know as much information as possible about your sleeping habits such as how much and often you sleep, what time you wake up and go to sleep, and instance of sleep during the day. In order to pinpoint the cause, medical testing might be necessary to pinpoint the cause such as a sleep study, blood tests, EEG (electrocephalogram) and CT (computed tomography) scans.

Hypersomnia Treatment
The underlying cause of the hypersomnia dictates treatment. If hypersomnia is due to narcolepsy, you might be prescribed medication such as a stimulants to help improve daytime wakefulness. Other helpful tips to offset narcolepsy symptoms are taking 2 to 3 naps a day, following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, going to sleep at the same time on a consistent basis and relaxing before bed.

For the most part, treatment for sleep apnea treatment can include the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the tongue base procedure. Depending upon the severity of sleep apnea, the best course of treatment to resolve sleep apnea for each patient can be determined on an individualized basis.

If a medication is instigating daytime drowsiness, the patient with hypersomnia can simply have his or her medication switched.

If you suspect you have hypersomnia or sleep apnea, or been diagnosed and would like to find out what individualized treatment option might be available for you, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a consultation.

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