Hypersomnia Vs. Insomnia (Know The Difference)

There are a lot of reasons why hypersomnia and insomnia are often confused. They are both sleep disorders that interfere with the regular sleep cycle and circadian rhythm.

They also share many of the same symptoms which other health issues can cause. However, insomnia can be the same as primary hypersomnia, which is standalone with no known cause.

There are specific tests that you must undergo before your state can be narrowed down to one or another. The test for both sleep disorders can range from questionnaires to an in-depth sleep study. Another similarity in these conditions is that they are relatively difficult to diagnose.

Hypersomnia is a rare sleep disorder only seen in 4-6% of the population, and primary hypersomnia is even less common. Whereas chronic insomnia is found in 10%, and common insomnia is reported in at least 30% of adults, making it a more recognizable condition.

In this guide, I have provided some valuable research on hypersomnia and compared it with the symptoms and treatments for insomnia.

So you can better understand the difference. Of course, to identify your health complications and sleep struggles, it is always best to consult your health provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Symptoms of Hypersomnia Vs. Insomnia

Symptoms of Hypersomnia Vs. Insomnia

When it comes to the primary symptoms of hypersomnia and insomnia, they are actually at opposite ends of the scale; hypersomnia means you’re potentially oversleeping and struggling to stay alert, while insomnia means that you struggle to get any sleep at all.

However, they both result in the same outcome, excessive sleepiness during the day. Let’s take a look at the differences side by side.

Unable to stay awake throughout the day.Unable to sleep during the night due to psychological stimulation.
Confusional Arousal.Trouble getting back to sleep once awoken.
Trouble getting back to sleep once awoken.Waking up very early in the morning.

Other Hypersomnia of Symptoms

Other Hypersomnia of Symptoms

Besides the core symptoms I mentioned above, some other secondary symptoms can go hand in hand with hypersomnia. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • An intense need to nap
  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive inadequacy 

Of course, these symptoms can be linked to many other medical conditions, and for them to be connected directly to hypersomnia, you would need to have been experiencing these problems for three months or more.

Other Symptoms of Insomnia

Other Symptoms of Insomnia

Of course, the stand-out symptom of insomnia is the inability to fall asleep and difficulty staying asleep, even when the sufferer feels tired. However, there are some other things to look out for which could be a sign of insomnia:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling overly emotional
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unable to function at work
  • Lack of communication in social situations

Hypersomnia Vs. Insomnia – The Similarities

Hypersomnia Vs. Insomnia - The Similarities

Hypersomnia and insomnia are similar in that both affect how you sleep and can interfere with your daily activities. They can also cause mental and physical exhaustion, negatively affecting your job and social life.

Suppose you suffer from either condition or other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, and it continues or is left undiagnosed. In that case, it can lead to more severe health complications such as obesity, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

Treating Hypersomnia And Insomnia

Before any sleep condition can be treated, the cause must be established.

For people with chronic insomnia or primary hypersomnia, it means that there is no other issue that is causing the sleep disturbance and that it’s a condition on its own, which makes it extremely challenging to treat.

However, if you have common insomnia, or secondary hypersomnia, it means that there is another problem causing the problem. This is good news, as your sleep will likely improve dramatically after dealing with the initial cause.

Once your diagnosis has been established, a few treatment methods may be offered to you or advised.

1. Medications


Primary hypersomnia is often medicated with stimulants such as Modafinil and dexamphetamine, which help you stay alert during the day.

On the contrary, insomnia is treated with medications like hypnotics or sedatives such as benzodiazepine and melatonin receptors.

2. Cognitive Therapy

Changing how you think and behave can positively affect sleep disorders. Ridding your mind of worries, or reducing your stress, will help you feel more relaxed and improve sleep quality.

3. Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene

Introducing a strict sleep schedule and putting a nightly routine into place can improve your sleep at night. Doing something relaxing, such as reading a book, taking a bath, and turning off devices, can help prepare the mind and body for sleep.

4. Changing Habits

Sometimes, how you behave throughout the day can impact how well you sleep at night—for example, drinking alcohol, consuming caffeine late in the day, or watching television into the early hours.

You can improve your sleep and mental well-being by eliminating or changing these habits and replacing them with exercises such as yoga or walking or making sure you’re going to bed simultaneously every night.

A Final Analysis

It’s important to remember that hypersomnia and insomnia are two entirely different sleep conditions with opposite symptoms relating to sleep disturbances.

While insomnia means that you struggle to fall asleep and remain asleep, hypersomnia means that you sleep ideally every night but still need long naps throughout the day, which doesn’t make you feel refreshed.

While hypersomnia is tricky to diagnose, many tests can be done to establish the cause and type of your sleep condition.

In some rare cases, it can be possible that you are suffering from both hypersomnia and insomnia simultaneously, which is, of course, much more complex and often linked to psychological disorders such as manic depression and bipolar disorder.

Both hypersomnia and insomnia can have the same adverse effects on your daily life, including your job, relationships, and mood changes.

Making changes to your daily life and habits can make a drastic improvement to your sleep health. For example, excessive alcohol intake and drug abuse go hand-in-hand with sleep disturbance.

It is also vital to have an established sleep schedule. Going to bed simultaneously every night, creating a comfortable space, and practicing relaxing activities such as reading before bed will help you settle into the right frame of mind to sleep.

Lastly, although some of the techniques and symptom descriptions in this guide may help you to establish what sleep disorder you may have, you must seek help from a medical professional who can examine you personally.

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!