When you hear the word Hypersomnia, you might automatically associate it with the common sleep disorder, insomnia. However, they are entirely different conditions.
Hypersomnia is a condition in which you will feel excessively sleepy throughout the day and often need naps, sometimes more than once daily. This happens despite you getting a refreshing night’s sleep the evening before.
Suffering from hypersomnia can weigh heavily on your life, getting in the way of your social life and having a negative impact on your performance in education or employment. It can also be hazardous, especially if you drive a car or operate machinery for a living.
It can also severely impact your home life and relationships because constantly tired can affect your mood, making you feel irritable and lacking patience.
During this guide, I will discuss what to look out for regarding signs and symptoms of hypersomnia.
Some forms of hypersomnia can be cured by simply changing your habits. However, if you have secondary hypersomnia, there is, unfortunately, no known cure. However, I can tell you some ways in which you can learn to live with your condition.
Causes of Hypersomnia
There are many causes of hypersomnia, some of which still can’t be explained. It’s suspected that hypersomnia is more common in women than men.
But, again, there are not yet any studies that illustrate why this is the case; perhaps it’s a chemical imbalance, or it’s hormonal; it could even be down to some birth control medications.
There are two categories that hypersomnia can fall into, primary and secondary, and each can narrow down the cause slightly.
For example, if you have primary hypersomnia, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it other than find ways to live with it that work for you.
However, secondary hypersomnia is usually a side effect of another condition, which means if the overriding problem is dealt with, the hypersomnia symptoms will be relieved.
Some studies also hint that hypersomnia could be genetic because almost 40% of people diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia have a history of it in their family. However, this is not enough to say it’s related to genetics.
Some other causes of hypersomnia may include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, depression, and bipolar disorder.
Also, bad habits such as drinking too much alcohol or taking certain medications can result in hypersomnia symptoms.
Signs And Symptoms of Hypersomnia
Although this list below show some signs and symptoms of hypersomnia, they could also indicate other medical conditions.
If you’re feeling unwell or your symptoms persist, you should contact your doctor or other medical professionals to investigate your health further.
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling restless
- Napping which doesn’t restore energy
- Low energy levels
- Feeling drained
- Slow responses
- No focus/concentration
- Constant tiredness
Additional Symptoms of Hypersomnia
If you have secondary hypersomnia, then there may be an underlying cause of your condition. These conditions have other symptoms in addition to the ones listed above:
If you’re a sufferer of narcolepsy, you will find that you fall asleep at any time of day and in any place. This is a dangerous condition and should be controlled as much as possible. This can include falling asleep while sitting at your desk or standing in line at the store.
2. Bipolar Disorder
This disorder involves a massive range in disposition, also known as mania. It can mean that you are overly excited and can’t keep still one minute, and then suddenly plunge into a state of despair. This can impact your sleeping pattern and mean that you often feel exhausted throughout the day.
Being depressed can be a side effect of hypersomnia due to lack of sleep, but it can also cause it. This is because the constant low mood and lack of interest in activities can leave you feeling drained and exhausted.
4. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a breathing condition that means your airways become restricted while sleeping. Sleep apnea is often related to hypersomnia because although you feel like you’ve had a good night’s sleep, it’s being disturbed by snoring, or restricted breathing, meaning you’ve had a broken sleep.
5. Restless Leg Syndrome
Some people find that restless leg syndrome (an unusual sensation in your legs at night) can often lead to or be associated with hypersomnia. This is because it prevents you from falling asleep at night and can also wake you up during the night.
Living With Hypersomnia
Finding out that you have a condition that can’t be cured or explained can be almost as frustrating as the ailment itself. However, dwelling on this will increase your stress levels and anxiety, leading to sleep disturbances.
Change Your Habits
If you’re living with hypersomnia, mainly secondary hypersomnia, then there are some things that you can do to try and improve your condition. These solutions are not going to cure your condition, but they may help you manage it better and hopefully reduce the symptoms slightly:
Avoid Shift Work
If you can help it, try to avoid working shifts that are late into the night or change daily.
Drinking coffee or consuming alcohol at night will stimulate your brain, meaning falling asleep will be extremely difficult. It’s important to remember that some painkillers, such as paracetamol, also contain caffeine.
Create a Comfortable Environment
Where you sleep is detrimental to your sleep. It’s essential that you have a calm, dark, and quiet space at night to relax and help you drift off into slumber.
It’s always important to check the label on any medications you take. Some medicines enhance drowsiness; therefore, taking them during the day can increase your need for sleep.
Improve Your Sleep Schedule
Having the same sleep/wake routine every night is essential. Put a routine in place about an hour before you go to bed. This could be reading a book, taking a bath, or completing a skincare regime. This lets your brain know that it’s time to start winding down.
The Final Analysis
It could be for several reasons if you think you’re suffering from a sleep condition such as hypersomnia. This could be purely down to a lack of routine and bad habits, or it could be related to another underlying health issue.
If you’re concerned that your symptoms or home techniques aren’t working for you, you must speak to your doctor to rule out any more sinister conditions.
It’s also important to remember that many signs and symptoms of hypersomnia are familiar in other conditions. To narrow it down, it can help to keep track of your sleeping patterns and keep a diary of how often you fall asleep during the day or feel overly exhausted.
You can then show these notes to a sleep specialist who can look at your symptoms and advise on a course of action that’s personal to you.
Lastly, remember that many people suffering from hypersomnia usually practice bad sleep hygiene practices, such as going to bed too late or drinking alcohol before bed. By changing these habits, you will probably notice a considerable change in a concise space of time.