Hypersomnia: What You Need To Know About This Sleeping Disorder

What is Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia means excessive sleepiness and this has several causes that can affect the daily routine of a person.

Having this condition, a person can experience irresistible, excessive sleep or daytime lapses into sleep. Based on the article in Medscape, this is not due to insufficient sleep or another sleep disorder.

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Here are the signs and symptoms of this sleeping disorder:

  • Daily periods of irresistible need to sleep or daytime lapses into sleep for more than 3 months
  • Absence of cataplexy (muscular weakness triggered by strong emotions while you’re awake)
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) showing < 2 sleep-onset REM periods (SOREMPs) or no SOREMPs if the REM sleep latency preceding polysomnogram is 15 minutes or less

Excessive daytime sleepiness leading to prolonged naps that are not refreshing and sleep drunkenness are signs of polysymptomatic form of primary hypersomnia.

People who have hypersomnia do not feel refreshed after taking a nap and because of this, they fight their sleepiness as hard as they can. It is also hard to wake them up. In some instances, they would experience headaches, fainting episodes, orthostatic hypotension, and peripheral vascular complaints of Raynaud phenomenon.

In dealing with this sleeping disorder, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis, as well as, individual tailoring of therapy to make sure that it will lead to the maximum possible return of function. Regular follow-up to monitor response to therapy is also a must.

These medications are used for hypersomnia:

  • modafinil
  • armodafinil
  • methylphenidate
  • amphetamines
  • sodium oxybate 

Secondary hypersomnia has several causes. This could be the result of a medical condition, a psychiatric condition, a drug or substance, or insufficient sleep syndrome.

This condition can lead to social impairments, ranging from social isolation to marriage breakdown. It is important for patients to receive support from the people around them who also need to be educated about the condition.

Other sleeping disorders that can affect a person are Restless Legs Syndrome, Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, Sleepwalking, and Sleep Talking.

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