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Hypersomnia & Narcolepsy

Introduction to Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is characterized as excessive sleepiness during the day. Narcolepsy, a sub-condition of hypersomnia, is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by severe daytime sleepiness and multiple sleep episodes lasting 10 to 15 minutes. It is a dangerous condition as narcoleptics fall asleep randomly throughout the day at moments beyond their control, such as in the middle of a conversation or while operating a vehicle.

Overview of Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia means excessive daytime sleepiness. People who suffer hypersomnia are unable to get the sleep that the body needs, potentially resulting in depression, poor quality of life and excessive sleepiness during the day. The most common cause of hypersomnia is sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep deprivation, getting less sleep than needed for long periods of time, can cause as severe sleepiness.

Symptoms of Hypersomnia

Excessive daytime sleepiness can result in a multitude of additional symptoms. Those who lack the necessary amount of sleep may struggle with concentration, learning and memory and reaction times are slower than rested people. They are also prone to microsleeps, periods of 1 to 5 seconds where they are essentially asleep, which can result in dangerous consequences including car crashes and workplace accidents. The symptoms of hypersomnia can also be caused by other sleep fragmentation disorders. Hypersomnia is also one of the main symptoms of primary sleep drive disorders such as narcolepsy.

Treatment of Hypersomnia

The first step in treating hypersomnia is identifying the underlying cause, and developing a treatment plan accordingly. If the hypersomnia is due to a sleep disorder, the treatment is aimed at working to correct it.  Stimulant medications may be helpful for hypersomnia caused by the primary sleep drive disorders.