The medical term for excessive daytime sleepiness is “hypersomnia.” And it describes an actual condition. Hypersomniacs sometimes struggle to stay alert during the day. It’s even when they get the recommended amount of sleep each night. The ability to work, learn, and perform other vital daily activities may all be negatively affected by this illness.
Primary and secondary hypersomnia are the two main categories. Constant daytime sleepiness is a hallmark of this condition. It’s not always caused by sleep deprivation, which can occur even after lengthy slumbers.
Excessive weariness is the most common cause of primary hypersomnia. In contrast, sleep disorders, including Obstructive sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease, Renal failure, and chronic fatigue syndrome, can lead to secondary hypersomnia.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that over 40% of the general population occasionally displays symptoms of hypersomnia. Insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and sleep-related movement disorders contribute to hypersomnia.
Individuals who have hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time, whether at work, while driving, or even while they are bathing. A lack of energy and the inability to focus are only two sleep-related symptoms they may experience.
We will discuss hypersomnia, along with its potential causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options, in this article. We will also examine whether hypersomnia is recognized as a disability.
Is Hypersomnia a Disability?
It’s worth noting that not all cases of hypersomnia will be classified as a disability. One must have a condition that limits one or more daily activities to be eligible for ADA protections. Many aspects are considered when deciding what treatment is appropriate for a patient. These include;
- the patient’s age
- the effectiveness of their meds, and
- how they perform daily tasks.
Some people with hypersomnia may not have severe enough symptoms to be classified as disabled. They can avoid illness-related absences from work if they can manage their symptoms with treatment. The ADA might not apply to the person in question in such situations.
They could struggle to maintain employment or academic performance. Moreover, they might need help with basic activities like grocery shopping and driving. Yet, extreme hypersomnia can significantly impair performance in various daily activities. The employee may be eligible for ADA protections. It may include modifications to working circumstances like extra time off or fewer tasks, depending on the severity of the disability.
1. Causes of Hypersomnia
There is no single underlying ailment that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. Instead, insufficient sleep duration is the primary culprit.
It would help if you got enough sleep. Most American adults (35%) earn less than seven hours of sleep every night. And adults need seven to nine hours of sleep to operate normally (CDC). Many people may need to sleep for more than nine hours per night to function adequately.
Apart from not getting enough shut-eye, the following can also bring on episodes of hypersomnia.
- Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and Kleine-Levin syndrome
- Conditions like multiple sclerosis, depression, encephalitis, epilepsy, and obesity are serious health issues.
- Use of alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs
- Prescription drugs for high blood pressure, steroids, decongestants, antidepressants, and weight loss pills.
- A hereditary tendency
2. Symptoms of Hypersomnia
The symptoms of hypersomnia may vary from person to person. But some of the most common symptoms include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty waking up
- Difficulty with memory and concentration
- Slowed speech and movements
- Irritability and mood changes
- Restlessness at night
- Loss of appetite
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Memory problems
Diagnosis of Hypersomnia
Your sleep doctor will want to know about your symptoms, health background, sleeping habits, and drug regimen. Your doctor will have you keep a sleep diary to record when you go to bed and wake up. An actigraphy sensor, resembling a small watch, can be worn on the wrist to monitor sleep disturbances over weeks.
Your sleep doctor may also recommend these other tests.
- Polysomnography: The sleep study is an overnight procedure that records your brain waves, respiration, heart rate, and muscle activity as a gauge of your sleep quality. The test is administered by a sleep specialist at a hospital, sleep study center, or other approved location. This evaluation can help identify sleepiness-related conditions.
- A series of latency tests on sleep: The number of naps with REM sleep is recorded, along with other cognitive metrics. The propensity to nod off during the day is evaluated via five 20-minute naps spaced two hours apart.
- A sleep survey: Several sleepiness-rating surveys may be given to you. The Epworth and Stanford Sleepiness Scale are two of the most widely used sleep surveys.
Treatment for Hypersomnia
If you have primary or secondary hypersomnia affects how you’re treated. When dealing with secondary hypersomnia, addressing the hypersomnia alone will not resolve the issue. The underlying sleep condition must be addressed first. Alterations to your regular bedtime routine and or the use of pharmaceuticals are possible components of treatment for sleep disorders where an underlying medical problem has been identified.
Idiopathic hypersomnia can be treated in two ways using medicine. Certain drugs may help you sleep through the night without waking up too early. Daytime wakefulness aids are not limited to caffeine.
Modafinil, armodafinil, pitolisant, and solriamfetol are medications that increase wakefulness. If none of these options work, your doctor may recommend a psychostimulant. Some examples are – amphetamine, methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine; sodium oxybate; flumazenil; or clarithromycin.
Those who experience extreme daytime drowsiness may benefit from changing their sleeping patterns. The American Sleep Association recommends these ways as the most effective for enhancing the quality of one’s sleep.
1. Adhere to a Consistent Pattern of Sleeping Hours
Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each night (ideally, this should be done seven nights a week).
2. Nap Less
Napping during the day reduces the amount of sleep you need at night. And this can cause interruptions in your sleep and make it more difficult to fall asleep when it’s time for bed.
3. Turn Off the TV and Other Electronics Before Bed
A bed is for sleeping, yet the bright lights from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop screen could keep you up at night.
4. Do Not Consume Caffeine After 2 p.m
Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and soda in the afternoon because their effects endure for a while.
5. Get in the Habit of Working out Frequently
Regular sleep is aided by exercise, but working out earlier in the day is best. It would help if you avoided strenuous exercise right before bedtime since it can increase your body’s production of endorphins, which can keep you awake.
6. Keep Your Bedroom Relaxing and Peaceful
Relax at a temperature just right by adjusting the thermostat in your bedroom. Get out of bed if it’s keeping you up. A quiet place to sleep is essential, so ensure your bedroom is dark and your mattress is supportive.
Chronic daytime sleepiness is a defining feature of hypersomnia. The inability to maintain employment or manage daily duties may not be a handicap in the technical sense, but it can severely restrict one’s independence and make life extremely difficult.
Causes of hypersomnia range from medical conditions to the undesirable side effects of medications to sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia. Hypersomnia can be treated with medication, lifestyle modifications, or counseling, but the method selected should be deliberate because it will affect the underlying reasons for the condition.
Those with hypersomnia should see a doctor to get to the depth of their condition and start receiving therapy. Adjustments in the job or the classroom may be necessary for people with hypersomnia to be successful despite their condition.
Although hypersomnia isn’t considered a disability, it’s crucial to recognize the difficulties that those suffering from it face and assist them. If identified, treated, and given the necessary resources, people with hypersomnia can enjoy normal, productive lives.