Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder in which someone is getting and/or needing more sleep than necessary.
Symptoms include patients sleeping more than 10 hours a night, difficulty in rousing the sleeper even after a full night of sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), and narcolepsy.
Approximately 5 percent of Americans suffer from hypersomnia.
Fortunately, hypersomnia is a treatable condition.
With the help of a sleep physician, a hypersomnia sufferer’s sleep needs can be restored to a preferable and non-excessive level, and the disruptive and possibly embarrassing daytime fatigue can be alleviated.
How Hypersomnia Treatment Works
- Treating hypersomnia might involve treating another sleep disorder that is causing the patient to sleep too much. For example, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to too much sleep and/or EDS, so OSA treatments such as a CPAP device might also lessen hypersomnia symptoms
- People suffering from depression commonly experience hypersomnia. That feeling of “I just don’t want to get out of bed” isn’t just a mood with someone with depression—it’s clinical. Treating the depression, whether with therapy, antidepressants, or both, often will help patients with their sleep and fatigue issues
- If prescription drugs are causing one to sleep too much, simply adjusting the dosage or switching medications can help. However, hypersomnia sufferers should consult their personal physician before making any changes to their drug regimen
- Assuming medicines aren’t causing the hypersomnia, other drugs might be prescribed. Medications such as Provigil and Xyrem may be prescribed to address the EDS, as well as stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall. Prozac, normally an antidepressant, has also been prescribed to treat hypersomnia.
What to Expect
A sleep physician is most qualified to diagnose hypersomnia, though visiting your personal doctor might be prudent in order to rule out other reasons why you are sleeping too much. Once an appointment with a sleep specialist is set, here’s what you can expect:
The interview: The sleep doctor must know everything about not just your sleep habits, but also your medical history, sleep environment, diet, exercise routine, and so on. This process might take the form of a questionnaire filled before or at your first appointment, as well as a one-on-one conversation with the specialist.
A sleep diary: You may be asked to keep a journal of your sleep for several days. In this diary, you will record what time you went to bed, how long it took you to fall asleep, how long you slept, what was the quality of your sleep, how difficult it was to wake up, and how tired were you during the day.
Polysomnogram: If warranted, an overnight sleep study might be recommended that includes a polysomnogram. During the testing, your brain waves, breathing, and body movements will be observed and recorded for further analysis.
Multiple sleep latency test: Your sleep specialist also might recommend an MSLT, which measures how quickly you fall asleep. Though often used to detect narcolepsy, the MSLT is also helpful in diagnosing EDS, which can be a sign of hypersomnia.
Once these steps are taken, your sleep specialist and personal physician can work together to recommend a course of action to lessen the effects of hypersomnia and help you get a good—and proper—night’s sleep.