Hypersomnia

Last Updated: April 27, 2019

Definition - What does Hypersomnia mean?

Hypersomnia is a condition in which a person sleeps to excess. Individuals who suffer from hypersomnia often have difficulty staying awake during the day. A person with hypersomnia may need to take frequent naps throughout the day and may appear to suffer from sleep deprivation. In comparison to normal drowsiness, hypersomnia suffers do not experience relief despite taking naps or sleeping longer at night. Hypersomnia may be a symptom of a separate condition or it may be caused directly by a sleep-related disorder. Hypersomnia poses a special risk to suffers because they may fall asleep at any time, even while operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle. Individuals with hypersomnia may also have difficulty thinking clearly. Hypersomnia is also called excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).

WorkplaceTesting explains Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia may be categorized as primary or secondary hypersomnia. Primary hypersomnia caused by a neurological disorder such a narcolepsy or Klein-Levin syndrome. Some genetic disorders also cause hypersomnia. Secondary hypersomnia is the more common form of the condition as manifests as a symptom of a separate condition. For instance, conditions such as obesity, restless leg syndrome, epilepsy, and other conditions may experience hypersomnia. Sleep apnea is a common cause of hypersomnia, as is inadequate night time sleep. Not all daytime drowsiness is diagnosed as hypersomnia. Usually, a diagnosis of hypersomnia will not be made unless the individual suffers from excessive daytime sleepiness for three or more months.

In making a diagnosis, a medical professional may ask the patient to assess their level of sleepiness as compared to a standard such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Polysomnography or a multiple sleep latency test may also be used. The treatment for hypersomnia will vary depending on what is causing the condition. In some instances, behavioral or dietary changes and improved sleep hygiene will alleviate the problem. Stimulant medications may also be used to treat the condition.

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