While most people are familiar with insomnia (inability to fall or stay asleep), hypersomnia is little known despite its prevalence. Despite sleeping for a long time at night, you will feel very sleepy throughout the day if you have hypersomnia.
As a primary or secondary condition, hypersomnia induces fatigue and negatively impacts concentration.
Type of Hypersomnia
Hypersomnia is of two types: primary or secondary.
When no other primary medical condition is present, you have primary hypersomnia. The symptoms often include excessive fatigue and sleepiness.
However, if a particular medical condition leads to your symptoms, then you have secondary hypersomnia. Secondary hypersomnia may be a symptom of the following health conditions:
Q. What is the difference between hypersomnia and narcolepsy?
A. While narcolepsy results in sudden sleep attacks throughout the day, hypersomnia induces fatigue, but people with this condition can stay awake on their own.
Causes of Hypersomnia
Primary hypersomnia may be caused because of problems in the brain, problems that hinder waking function and sleep control.
On the other hand, secondary hypersomnia results from other medical conditions. For instance, obstructive sleep apnea results in the patient waking up frequently during the night, resulting in a lack of good sleep.
Note: Some medications or endocrine system disorders may lead to hypersomnia. Discuss the same with your doctor.
Symptoms of Hypersomnia
Both primary and secondary hypersomnia result in very similar symptoms. Here’s a list of the same:
- Sleepiness throughout the day
- Low energy
- Difficulty with concentration
- Loss of appetite
- Memory loss
Hypersomnia can significantly deteriorate your quality of life. That is why it is necessary to take steps that will help you heal.
Diagnosis for Sleep Apnea
Doctors usually check for symptoms of hypersomnia and your medical history. After a few physical tests to ascertain the level of alertness, the following tests may be prescribed:
- Sleep diary: you yourself keep track of the amount of time you sleep per day, i.e, note down the sleeping and waking times.
- Epworth sleepiness scale: level of sleepiness must be rated to know the severity of hypersomnia.
- Multiple sleep latency test: your sleep is monitored while you take a nap during the day.
- Polysomnogram: at a sleep center, machines are used to monitor oxygen levels, breathing patterns, eye movement, heart rate, and brain activity, as you sleep.
Treatment Options for Hypersomnia
Depending on the level of severity, the treatment of hypersomnia includes drugs and certain lifestyle changes.
For serious cases, the following drugs may be prescribed:
As stimulants, these drugs keep you awake and alert. However, they have many side effects, especially in the long term.
So relying on lifestyle changes is critical for better results in treating hypersomnia. The following treatment options may be helpful.
As it's said, ‘the best pillow is fatigue.
Exercising regularly reduces symptoms of depression and stress. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which make you feel good. Further, it improves your posture and provides you more confidence.
You can join a gym or go for at home workouts. Here are some recommendations for at home workouts:
While exercising tires your body and keeps you active, there’s no alternative to good nutrition.
However, many people simply focus on macronutrients and completely ignore the micronutrients, which are required for metabolism and proper functioning of the endocrine system.
- Take a balanced diet, and if you can’t meet the daily reference intake for these micronutrients, then you should take a multivitamin and multimineral.
- Further, consuming vitamin D supplements is highly recommended, as you may not be getting enough from the sunlight and your diet.
- Lastly, you should also consume fatty fish 2-3 times per week. Fatty fish contains omega-3, an essential fatty acid which cannot be produced by our body. If you don’t consume a lot of fish, then take an omega-3 supplement.
While you may be getting 8 hours of sleep, you may not be practicing good sleep posture.
Depending on your sleep position, you must maintain a proper posture that aligns the neck with the rest of the spine and reduces pressure from joints such as lower back and shoulders.
For better neck alignment, you can try shredded memory foam pillow, which provide the following benefits:
- Have adjustable height and firmness
- Contain memory foam, which molds according to body shape and provides consistent support to your neck
- Durability, as memory foam retains its shape for its entire lifetime
To prevent hypersomnia, you should sleep in a calm and peaceful environment, follow good sleeping habits, and consume a healthy diet. Further, avoid alcohol and stimulants close to sleep.
Further, exercising properly and avoiding naps during the day can help you in preventing hypersomnia and enjoying a great sleep.
Briefly to Conclude,
Waking up well rested helps you feel energized and motivated. However, conditions such as hypersomnia can seriously hamper your alertness and mental cognition. Overtime, it can have a serious impact on your physical and mental health. If you have this condition, then make good lifestyle choices and get a clear diagnosis from your doctor.
Q. Is hypersomnia a mental illness?
A. Often a neurological disorder, hypersomnia causes excessive sleepiness throughout the day. However, it can be a result of other health conditions, in which case it becomes secondary hypersomnia.
Q. How much should I sleep to avoid hypersomnia?
A. Hypersomnia cannot be avoided by sleeping for longer periods of time. Ideally one should take 8 hours of sleep, but people with hypersomnia often feel sleepiness even after 10 hours of sleep.
Q. Is hypersomnia the only reason for feeling sleepy during the day?
A. Feeling sleepy throughout the day can have many reasons. You may have insomnia and may not be getting enough sleep. Otherwise, you may have an unhealthy lifestyle.
Supplemental New Drug Application for Hypersomnia by Jazz Gets FDA Priority Review (April 14, 2021)
Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc has announced that the FDA has accepted its supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA), for its new sleep drug, Xywav, for idiopathic hypersomnia. The FDA has also granted priority review to the sNDA, indicating speedy review. A decision on potential approval to its label expansion from the FDA is expected by Aug 12, 2021.