Hypersomnia is characterized by episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or abnormally lengthy nighttime sleep. Regardless of how much sleep they have at night, sufferers feel they simply have to nap during the day, but they never feel refreshed. Hypersomniacs commonly take naps at very inappropriate times.
It is not uncommon for sufferers to sleep for 14 or more hours at a time. Individuals with this disorder may not even begin to enter REM sleep until the normal time to wake up. Hypersomnia most often affects young people and young adults and usually appears before the age of 25.
Types of Hypersomnia
- Primary Hypersomnia, where symptoms are exhibited constantly.
- Recurrent Hypersomnia, where periods or episodes occur interspersed with periods of normal sleep.
- Kleine-Levin Syndrome is a form of recurrent hypersomnia and affects mostly male adolescents. It usually lasts for a period of 8-12 years. Individuals with Kleine-Levin syndrome can go through periods or episodes where they will sleep as much as 20 hours at a time, experience strange moods, dramatically overeat, and suffer disorientation and irritability. This disorder is somewhat rare and many in the scientific community believe that it may be caused by a malfunction of the hypothalamus and the thalamus.
Causes of Hypersomnia
Hypersomnia can be caused by many things, even having to go to the bathroom during the night — anything that disrupts your sleep. Some possible causes for this sleep disorder are:
- Other sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea, Restless Legs Syndrome, or Narcolepsy
- Medications you are taking
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Head injuries or traumas
- Brain infections or brain tumors
- Clinical depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD
- Withdrawal from substance abuse
There are certain medical conditions which can contribute to hypersomnia including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and encephalitis. In cases when a cause cannot be determined, sleep specialists refer to it as idiopathic hypersomnia. Idiopathic hypersomnia is not uncommon.
Symptoms of Hypersomnia
- Excessive nighttime sleeping longer than 10 hours at a time
- An irresistible need to take naps during the day
- Confused or slow thinking
- Loss of appetite
- Impaired memory
- Low energy
- Slowed speech
Reasons for Concern
Sufferers of this sleep disorder have cause for concern because the lack of good quality sleep is linked to:
- High blood pressure
- Job loss due to lack of productivity or trouble getting up and to work on time
- Car accidents
- Numerous other accidents
Hypersomnia Patients Should Always:
For anyone who suffers from Hypersomnia, there are a number of important recommendations of things to avoid, such as:
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid planning or doing anything that might delay bedtime
- Avoid driving when they feel sleepy