Doctor's Notes on Hypersomnia
Hypersomnia is a condition of recurrent episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep. Signs and symptoms include recurrent episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep, compelled to take naps during the day, no relief from napping, difficulty in waking up and/or feel disoriented. Other symptoms are anxiety, irritation, decreased energy, slowing of speech and thinking, loss of appetite, hallucinations and memory problems.
The underlying causes are not clear; some believe other sleep disorders may cause hypersomnia, others suggest tumors, head trauma or some injury to the central nervous system is responsible. Drug and alcohol abuse, medications, medical diseases like depression, epilepsy or obesity and genetics are linked to the underlying cause of hypersomnia according to some researchers.
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:
- increased irritation,
- decreased energy,
- 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 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.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.