Hypersomnia is a chronic neurological sleep disorder in which one repeatedly feels excessively tired during the day (a condition called excessive daytime sleepiness) or sleeps longer than usual at night. It is different from feeling tired due to lack of—or interrupted—sleep at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 20 out of 100 people suffer from hypersomnia.

Based on the causes, this disorder can be divided into two types:

  • Primary hypersomnia does not have any other medical condition as its cause. It is an idiopathic condition, and the cause cannot be found.
  • Secondary hypersomnia is caused by conditions that include:
    • Obstructive sleep apnea (cessation of breathing during sleep that results in snoring)
    • Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
    • Parkinsonism
    • Head injury
    • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels)
    • Depression
    • Heart conditions
    • Restless leg syndrome (an uncontrollable urge to move the legs continuously)
    • Narcolepsy (extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep)
    • Bipolar disorder (mood swings that range from extreme highs to extreme lows)

What are the symptoms of hypersomnia?

  • Taking frequent naps during the day
  • Sleeping for 10 or more hours and still not feeling refreshed
  • Falling asleep during any activity, such as eating, talking or driving

Are treatments available for hypersomnia?

Treatment for hypersomnia can include:

  • Stimulants
  • Antidepressants
  • Following a regular sleep schedule

If your hypersomnia is caused by sleep apnea, you may be advised to use a CPAP machine, which is a nasal device connected to a blower that keeps your airways open while you are asleep.

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