Hypersomnia refers to either excessive sleepiness during the day or extended, overly long periods of nighttime sleep.
It may be associated with difficulty in awakening.
Other words that are synonymous with hypersomnia are excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), excessive sleepiness, or somnolence.
People who have hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time: for instance, at work or while they are driving. Hypersomnia is fairly common, with nearly 5% of the population affected.
The age groups most affected by hypersomnia are teenagers and young adults. People who are overweight are more likely than others to suffer from hypersomnia, and this can often exacerbate their weight problems as their excessive sleep patterns mean they will use up less energy, making it even harder to lose weight.
The Difference between fatigue and Hypersomnia:
A difference should be made between simple weariness, fatigue, or depression, and hypersomnia. Sleep deprivation is a common state for most of the population; many people are tired or lethargic at certain periods during the day.
A depressed person either will not want to get out of bed or will suffer from insomnia, even though he or she feels a nap will improve the depression.
On the contrary, hypersomniacs are so sleepy during the day that they are forced to sleep or “take a nap.” These persons fall asleep during movies, dinner, or even in conversation. Similarly, they may sleep ten hours or longer during one sleep cycle, rather than the average eight.
What are the consequences of Hypersomnia?
Napping, excessive sleepiness and long nighttime sleeping can all obstruct with a normal timetable and work routine. Associated symptoms of hypersomnia, including irritability, mild depression, memory loss, and lack of concentration, harm performance.
For this reason, people suffering from hypersomnia should be cautious when operating machinery, especially driving a motorized vehicle, as accidents are expected to happen.
There are two main categories of hypersomnia: Idiopathic hypersomnia (sometimes called primary hypersomnia) and recurrent hypersomnia (sometimes called recurrent primary hypersomnia).
Idiopathic hypersomnia is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness over a long period of time. The symptoms are present all, or nearly all, of the time. Idiopathic hypersomnia is much like narcolepsy except there is no cataplexy, no sleep paralysis, and no rapid eye movement when the victim first falls asleep.
Recurring hypersomnia involves periods of excessive daytime sleepiness that can last from one to many days, and recur over the course of a year or more.
Difference Between Idiopathic Hypersomnia and Recurring Hypersomnia
The primary difference between recurring and Idiopathic hypersomnia is that persons experiencing recurring hypersomnia will have prolonged periods where they do not exhibit any signs of hypersomnia, whereas persons experiencing Idiopathic hypersomnia are affected by it nearly all the time.
A person with hypersomnia may sleep up to twelve hours a night, and still need frequent daytime naps. If the condition is diagnosed as recurrent hypersomnia, this is also called Kleine-Levin Syndrome.
A distinction should be made between simple tiredness, fatigue, or depression, and hypersomnia. Sleep deprivation is a common state for most of the population - many people are tired or sluggish at certain periods during the day.
The depressed person either will not want to get out of bed or will suffer from insomnia, even though he or she feels a nap will improve the depression. On the contrary, hypersomniacs are so sleepy during the day that they are compelled to sleep or "take a nap."
These individuals fall asleep during movies, dinner, or even in conversation. Similarly, they may sleep ten hours or longer during one sleep cycle, rather than the average eight.
Causes of Hypersomnia
There are several causes of hypersomnia, including:
- The sleep disorders narcolepsy (daytime sleepiness) and sleep apnea (interruptions of breathing during sleep)
- dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, or drug or alcohol abuse
- a physical problem, such as a tumor, head trauma, or injury to the central nervous system
- Not getting enough sleep at night (sleep deprivation)
- Being overweight
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- A head injury or a neurological disease, such as multiple sclerosis
- Prescription drugs, such as tranquilizers
- Certain medications, or medicine withdrawal, may also cause hypersomnia
- Genetics (having a relative with hypersomnia)
People experiencing hypersomnia do not get abnormal amounts of nighttime sleep. However, they often have problems waking up in the morning and staying awake during the day. People with hypersomnia nap frequently, and upon waking from the nap, do not feel refreshed.
The symptoms include:
- The predominant complaint is excessive sleepiness for at least 1 month (or less if recurrent) as evidenced by either prolonged sleep episodes or daytime sleep episodes that occur almost daily.
- The excessive sleepiness causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
- Anxiety, increased irritation, decreased energy, restlessness, 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
People with Kleine-Levin syndrome have symptoms that differ from the symptoms of other forms of hypersomnia. These people may sleep for 18 or more hours a day.
In addition, they are often irritable, uninhibited, and make indiscriminate sexual advances. People with Kleine-Levin syndrome often eat uncontrollably and rapidly gain weight, unlike people with other forms of hypersomnia. This form of recurrent hypersomnia is very rare.