What Causes Hypersomnia in Males And Females?

If you’re a sufferer of hypersomnia, you will experience symptoms such as being unable to stay alert during the day and constantly feeling excessive sleepiness. This will happen even if you’ve had a night of perfectly sufficient sleep the night before.

After a while, hypersomnia can start infringing on your day-to-day activities and strain your general quality of life. It can also affect your job or education in more severe cases.

During this guide, I am going to be telling you about the condition and who it affects. I will also give you some handy tips on preventing it without medication.

Of course, if you feel you have tried all the home remedies, you should have a word with your doctor to rule out any medical conditions and see if there are any further treatments they can offer you.

What is Hypersomnia?

What is Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is not confused with insomnia, mainly because it’s the opposite in symptoms.

If you suffer from hypersomnia, your ability to fall asleep at night is not the issue. Instead, the primary symptom is still feeling exhausted after a good-quality night’s sleep.

Sufferers often fall asleep multiple times throughout the day, dramatically impacting their employment, education, and social life.

It can also be hazardous, especially for anyone who’s in control of machinery or vehicles.

Types of Hypersomnia in Men And Women

It can get a little complicated when you look deeper into the different scientific classifications of hypersomnia.

Even more confusing is that these are forever being adapted and added to. However, in both men and women, the type of hypersomnia has the same causes and symptoms.

So, I have broken this down into two dominant categories to make it a little easier to understand: Primary Hypersomnia and Secondary Hypersomnia.

1. Primary Hypersomnia

Primary Hypersomnia is a condition all on its own and is not a side effect of another medical condition. There are, in fact, four different kinds of hypersomnia which are classified as primary, and each one has slightly varied symptoms:

Different Kinds of Primary Hypersomnia

Idiopathic Hypersomnia

This kind of hypersomnia doesn’t yet have any known cause. It means you can get adequate sleep per night and still feel the need to sleep during the day.

Type One Narcolepsy

This type of narcolepsy is often associated with muscle weakness and a low level of cerebrospinal fluid, also known as orexin (a chemical in your body that regulates appetite, wakefulness, and arousal).

Other symptoms of type one narcolepsy include hallucinations and sleep paralysis. If you have type one narcolepsy, you will probably find that taking a power nap during the day will restore your energy.

Type Two Narcolepsy

Type two narcolepsy doesn’t have the same muscle-weakening symptoms as type one and is also less severe in terms of orexin levels. This kind of narcolepsy is more commonly seen in children.

Kleine-Levin Syndrome

This is a more severe condition than other primary hypersomnias, which involves frequent, and prolonged episodes which can be extreme.

It is often associated with mental illnesses and behavioral problems. Episodes can last for as long as ten days. However, between these episodes, sufferers usually feel perfectly normal. This condition is more often seen in males.

2. Secondary Hypersomnia

Secondary hypersomnia means that another medical concern causes your condition. These can include, but are not limited to:

Different Kinds of Secondary Hypersomnia

Insufficient Sleep Syndrome

You could suffer from hypersomnia simply because you don’t have good general sleep hygiene. This can be because your sleep schedule is interrupted or habits such as drinking too much caffeine or pulling all-nighters affect your sleep.

Medications And Substance Use

Some medicines can contain ingredients that make you drowsy, causing you to need more sleep during the day.

Also, medications used to prevent conditions such as ADHD and Parkinson’s disease can cause hypersomnia. Taking stimulants such as alcohol can also be a leading cause.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions are known to be a leading cause of hypersomnia. Disorders such as sleep apnea, depression, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, are among others with which hypersomnia is a significant side effect. Head injuries or neurological conditions can also be a leading cause.

Who Does Hypersomnia Affect?

Hypersomnia can affect people of all ages at any point during their lives, whether this is an ongoing condition or something brought on in the wake of another medical problem.

However, research has shown that hypersomnia is more common in females than males. The reason for this is unclear, but evidence suggests it could be due to chemical imbalances or hormones.

Hypersomnia is usually diagnosed between the late teen and early twenties.

What Are The Causes of Hypersomnia?

What Are The Causes of Hypersomnia

At the time of writing this guide, extensive research is still taking place to determine the actual causes of hypersomnia. Still, at the moment, the cause remains unknown, especially in the case of primary hypersomnia.

Scientists have researched how the neurotransmitters orexin, dopamine, and serotonin levels play a part in the condition.

It has been considered that the disorder can be genetically passed down, as studies have revealed that 39% of people suffering from idiopathic hypersomnia have a family history of it.

Some ongoing studies concern circadian rhythm and how that can be linked to hypersomnia.

How to Prevent Hypersomnia?

Although there is no known cure for hypersomnia and nothing that you can do medically to prevent it, there are things that you can do to help the symptoms and assist you in living with the condition.

Also, if your hypersomnia is secondary, then there are things you can do to fix the predominant condition, which in turn can help to prevent the continuation of your sleep struggles which include:

1. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, And other Stimulants

Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, And other Stimulants

Substances such as nicotine, alcohol, medications, and caffeine are all stimulants. Taking these later in the day or close to bedtime has a high chance of disturbing your sleep, which can lead to you needing to sleep more throughout the day.

2. Regulate Your Shift Pattern

If you’re someone who suffers from hypersomnia, then taking a job where you work alternate shifts and work through the night is not advised. However, if this is unavoidable, try to be strict with your sleep routine and see if you can stabilize your shift work, so they stay the same daily. For example, request a one-month rota.

3. Avoid Late-Night Snacking

Avoid Late-Night Snacking

Eating late at night can disturb your sleep quality because it means the digestive system gets to work and prevents your body from releasing melatonin (the chemical that aids sleep).

4. Check Your Diet

Sometimes, the cause of disturbed sleep could be a food intolerance, such as a gluten allergy. Speak to your doctor before making significant changes to your diet regarding your sleep condition.

5. Adapt Your Sleep Schedule

Adapt Your Sleep Schedule

Having a sleep schedule is detrimental to good quality sleep; preparing your sleep environment and putting a routine in place can improve your sleep quality, meaning that you don’t feel drowsy during the day. 

A Final Analysis

If you struggle to stay awake during the day, even if you’ve had adequate sleep the night before, then the chances are that you’re suffering from hypersomnia.

Hypersomnia has been shown to affect females more than it does males. Still, in both cases, it can be physically draining and dramatically impact your mental health, especially if it’s an ongoing situation.

It’s crucial that you speak to a medical professional about your specific condition because if you find you have secondary hypersomnia, there are steps you can take to improve or even eliminate your condition.

If you discover that you have primary hypersomnia, it can be disheartening to learn that there isn’t yet a cure. However, I hope I have reassured you that there may be things your doctor can do which can help to reduce your symptoms.

It’s also important to remember that this is a sleep disorder that is still being researched, so there may be a cure just around the corner, and in the meantime, there are plenty of things you can do to help you learn to cope with hypersomnia.

Sarah Wagner

I'm Sarah Wagner, and I founded Sweet Island Dreams in 2022. It's a blog dedicated to helping people mental vacation virtually anytime they want. By providing information about the best sleep of your life, I help people drift away to paradise without ever having to leave their bed!