There are two main categories of hypersomnia: primary hypersomnia (sometimes called idiopathic hypersomnia) and current hypersomnia (sometimes called recurrent primary hypersomnia). Both are by the same signs and symptoms. Hypersomnia, or excessive sleepiness, is a condition in which a person has trouble staying awake during the day. People who have hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time for instance, at work or while they are driving. They may also have other sleep-related problems, including a lack of energy and trouble thinking clearly.
The National Sleep Foundation, up to 40% of people have some symptoms of hypersomnia from time to time.
Other symptoms may include anxiety, increased irritation, decreased energy, restlessness, slow thinking, and slow speech, loss of appetite, hallucinations, and memory difficulty. Some patients lose the ability to function in family, social, occupational, or other settings. Hypersomnia may be caused by another sleep disorder (such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea), dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, or drug or alcohol abuse. In some cases it results from a physical problem, such as a tumor, head trauma, or injury to the central nervous system.
Certain medications, or medicine withdrawal, may also cause hypersomnia. Medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, depression, encephalitis, epilepsy, or obesity may contribute to the disorder. Some people appear to have a genetic predisposition to hypersomnia in others, there is no known cause. Typically, hypersomnia is first recognized in adolescence or young adulthood. If you are diagnosed with hypersomnia, your doctor can prescribe various drugs to treat it, including stimulants, antidepressants, as well as several newer medications like Provigil and Xyrem.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe a treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. With CPAP, you wear a mask over your nose while you are sleeping. A machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nostrils is hooked up to the mask. The pressure from air flowing into the nostrils helps keep the airways open. If you are taking a medication that causes drowsiness, ask your doctor about changing the medication to one that is less likely to make you sleepy. You may also want to go to bed earlier to try to get more sleep at night, and eliminate alcohol and caffeine.
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