Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia Overview

Hypersomnia is characterized by recurrent episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep.

Hypersomnia Causes

  • Hypersomnia may be caused by another sleep disorder (such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea), dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, or drug or alcohol abuse.
  • In some cases it results from a physical problem, such as a tumor, head trauma, or injury to the central nervous system.
  • Certain medications, or medicine withdrawal, may also cause hypersomnia.
  • Medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, depression, encephalitis, epilepsy, or obesity may contribute to the disorder.
  • Some people appear to have a genetic predisposition to hypersomnia; in others, there is no known cause.
  • Typically, hypersomnia is first recognized in adolescence or young adulthood.

Hypersomnia Symptoms

Different from feeling tired due to lack of or interrupted sleep at night, persons with hypersomnia are compelled to nap repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times such as at work, during a meal, or in conversation. These daytime naps usually provide no relief from symptoms. Patients often have difficulty waking from a long sleep, and may feel disoriented.

Other symptoms may include:

  • anxiety,
  • increased irritation,
  • decreased energy,
  • restlessness,
  • slow thinking,
  • slow speech,
  • loss of appetite,
  • hallucinations, and
  • memory difficulty.

Some patients lose the ability to function in family, social, occupational, or other settings.

Hypersomnia Treatment

Treatment is symptomatic in nature.

Changes in behavior (for example avoiding night work and social activities that delay bed time) and diet may offer some relief. Patients should avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Medications

Stimulants such as the following may be prescribed:

Other drugs used to treat hypersomnia include:

Hypersomnia Prognosis (Outlook)

The prognosis for persons with hypersomnia depends on the cause of the disorder. While the disorder itself is not life threatening, it can have serious consequences, such as automobile accidents caused by falling asleep while driving. The attacks usually continue indefinitely.

Research on Hypersomnia

The NINDS supports and conducts research on sleep disorders such as hypersomnia. The goal of this research is to increase scientific understanding of the condition, find improved methods of diagnosing and treating it, and discover ways to prevent it.

More Information

  • National Sleep Foundation 1522 K Street NW
    Suite 500
    Washington, DC 20005
    [email protected]
    http://www.sleepfoundation.org
    Tel: 202-347-3471
    Fax: 202-347-3472
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Health Information Center
    P.O. Box 30105
    Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
    [email protected]
    http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
    Tel: 301-592-8573/240-629-3255 (TTY) Recorded Info: 800-575-WELL (-9355)

SOURCE: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health. "NINDS Hypersomnia Information Page."
<http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/hypersomnia/hypersomnia.htm>
Last update: 2/22/2010

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