Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder in which the sufferer experiences excessive daytime sleepiness no matter how much sleep they’ve had the night before.
As there are other sleep conditions with similar symptoms to those of Hypersomnia, such as narcolepsy, it’s vital to establish your exact disorder before looking into treatments or trying out any home remedies.
When you speak to your sleep professional about your symptoms, they will suggest that you undergo several tests first to establish the exact cause of your sleep disturbances or oversleeping.
It’s also essential to distinguish your symptoms so that you know what to look for and tell your doctor during your appointment.
Suppose you’re experiencing symptoms such as needing to nap during the day but not feeling refreshed, oversleeping for hours in the morning and waking up feeling disorientated. In that case, these could be signs of Hypersomnia.
Throughout this guide, I will talk briefly about what tests you can expect to get during your doctor’s visit, and then I will give you more in-depth information about what comes next following your diagnosis regarding medications and natural remedies.
Causes of Hypersomnia
The type of Hypersomnia you have often determines the cause of the problem. There are many types of Hypersomnia, some of which get overly complicated when discussing them scientifically, but in general, they are broken down into two categories, primary and secondary.
People who suffer from primary Hypersomnia have no known reason, cause, or understanding of their condition. This is because there simply isn’t one yet. Primary Hypersomnia, like idiopathic Hypersomnia, is a disorder on its own, and its cause is yet to be discovered.
However, if you have secondary Hypersomnia, it’s easier to treat. This is because your sleep condition is likely triggered by something else, be it substances, bad habits, or an underlying health problem.
Also, your sleep specialist must understand your exact symptoms. Many sleep conditions exhibit similar symptoms. To help your doctor understand exactly what’s going on, it can help to keep a sleep diary for around two weeks prior to your visit. This means they can link your symptoms with your habits and routines.
What Happens During Your Appointment?
During your first visit with a sleep specialist, they will begin by asking you some questions about your general health and any mental or physical problems you might be experiencing.
They will also likely ask you to keep a diary of your sleeping patterns and habits. This is why it can help to come prepared with a log beforehand, and it will speed up the testing process.
If your doctor thinks it necessary, they will refer you for further testing at a centre specializing in sleep disorders.
After you have undergone all the required tests, the specialist will inform you of what is causing your Hypersomnia or whether or not your sleep disorder is idiopathic, which means there is no known cause.
As frustrating as it can be to discover you have an incurable condition with no known cause, there are some things you can do to help improve your sleep and quality of life. Some of these include using medications and treatments, and some are things you can do at home.
Depending on the type of Hypersomnia you are diagnosed with, your doctor might recommend some medications that will make you feel a little more alert during the day, reducing the need to take naps. These include modafinil, methylphenidate, or pitolisant, amongst others.
2. Primary Hypersomnia
This type of Hypersomnia is often linked with narcolepsy, idiopathic Hypersomnia, and Kleine-Levin syndrome. These conditions mean that the state is not caused by a lack of sleep or another condition.
These will often be treated with medications in the form of stimulants. These medications affect the chemicals in the brain and help to regulate a sleep-wake pattern.
3. Secondary Hypersomnia
Secondary Hypersomnia is when your sleep disorder is a knock-on effect of another condition. This could be anything from substance abuse to stress.
This means that to treat Hypersomnia, you must first treat the underlying cause. On the flip side, it can also be that medications you’re taking for another condition interfere with your sleep pattern. You would need to speak to your doctor about adjusting your meditation.
4. Behaviour, Habits, And Lifestyle
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes Hypersomnia is caused by things you could be doing in your daily life which has a negative impact on your quality of sleep. In many cases, once these habits are changed, people see a dramatic improvement in their sleep and general health.
5. Avoid Stimulants
Drinking coffee, energy drinks, and even alcohol can impact how well you sleep. This is because they all activate the nervous system.
It is advised not to take products containing caffeine past 3:00 pm, and if you’re drinking alcohol, stop drinking about two hours before you go to bed. It’s also important to remember that some medications, such as paracetamol, can contain caffeine.
6. Diet And Nutrition
Your diet can play a big part in not only your health but your sleep as well. For example, consuming many processed foods, sugar additives, and saturated fats has been proven to increase daytime sleepiness.
On the other hand, eating nutritious foods such as natural proteins and fibres can help to improve sleep quality. It’s also advised that you avoid eating in the hours leading up to sleep.
7. Sleep Schedule
Improving your sleep schedule or changing it can help you improve sleep quality. The first thing to ensure is that you go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time.
This goes for weekends as well. Put a routine in place for an hour or two before you go to bed, which will help you to relax, such as taking a bath, reading a book, or practising meditation.
8. Change Your Shift
It is not advised for anyone with sleep disorders to take jobs involving shift work. This is because it makes it impossible to sync your sleep-wake routine.
Although this is sometimes unavoidable, try speaking to your employer about your health concerns and see if they can change anything to improve your schedule.
Exercising during the day and getting plenty of fresh air can drastically improve your sleep. Introducing activity to your daily schedule, whether at the gym or walking the dog, should result in noticeable improvement.
Yoga is also recommended, especially for exercise later in the day, as it isn’t as energetic and is likely to make you feel more relaxed approaching bedtime.
The Bottom Line
As we have established, the most crucial thing to do before starting any treatments for Hypersomnia is to understand the cause and type of your sleep disorder.
While medications may be required or recommended in cases such as idiopathic Hypersomnia, it’s vital to consider the possible side effects.
Work closely with your doctor to ensure you’re taking the correct dosage, and ask about reducing the medications where possible. Misused or overused medicines can severely affect your physical and mental well-being.
While it can take some time to pin down what treatment will work best for your Hypersomnia, speaking to the doctor is the best way to work through your condition.
They can look deeper into your circumstances and medical history and try the best treatments they think will suit you. They can also look at other medications you might already be taking, which could be disrupting your sleep.