Did you know that there is a diagnosable condition that relates to excessive daytime sleepiness? Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, or excessive time spent sleeping. Someone with hypersomnia will have a hard time staying awake during the day, and they may fall asleep at odd or dangerous times.

Hypersomnia FAQs

Possible causes of hypersomnia include neurological disease, drug and alcohol abuse, and obesity. Find out more information with the following hypersomnia FAQs.

Hypersomnia relates to numerous conditions, so people may go to different types of doctors based on their individual concerns. Seeing a pulmonologist is recommended if the sleep disorder is due to lung disease or breathing problems. If brain or nervous system disorders cause sleep issues, then a neurologist can help.

Hypersomnia and narcolepsy are common daytime sleepiness disorders. The main difference between the two disorders is the duration of their drowsy episodes. Narcolepsy generally involves brief durations of overwhelming sleepiness while hypersomnia lasts longer but is less extreme.

Another difference between the two disorders is the sleep quality people with the disorders experience. Having narcolepsy usually means having disrupted sleep patterns. People with hypersomnia generally experience long, undisturbed sleep at night.

Yes, depression can cause hypersomnia. There are two types of hypersomnia: primary and secondary. The main difference between primary and secondary hypersomnia is the cause of the neurological condition. Primary hypersomnia, which includes idiopathic hypersomnia and two types of narcolepsy, is not the result of any other medical conditions except for excessive fatigue. According to the Depression Alliance website, primary hypersomnia is linked to genetics. However, psychological disorders, medication and other factors can cause secondary hypersomnia.

Yes. Insomnia can cause hypersomnia if sleep deprivation at night results in daytime drowsiness. However, there are other common causes of hypersomnia, including:

  • Sleep apnea (breathing difficulty that affects the quality of sleep)
  • Being overweight
  • Substance abuse
  • Genetics
  • Psychological disorders, including depression
  • A physical injury, often to the head

Yes. Chemotherapy can cause hypersomnia. One of the main symptoms of chemotherapy is daytime drowsiness, which can make nighttime sleep difficult. Chemotherapy usually causes people to experience fatigue, nausea, headaches and muscle or stomach pain.

Chemotherapy involves medication that targets and destroys cancer cells. However, chemotherapy can also kill healthy cells that the body needs for maintaining its strength. The way chemotherapy drugs work in the body makes people feel extreme fatigue during the day. Since chemotherapy is a process that requires frequent instances of treatment, often multiple times in a week, persistent daytime drowsiness occurs.

Yes. Anxiety and sleeping disorders, including hypersomnia, are linked. If a person’s anxiety causes sleep deprivation at night, that person could experience acute daytime drowsiness, which is the main symptom of hypersomnia.

People can experience hypersomnia without a history of anxiety and then develop anxiety due to hypersomnia. Anxiety, decreased energy during the day, irritation, slow speech and thinking, restlessness, hallucinations, affected memory and loss of appetite are all common symptoms of hypersomnia.

Yes, anemia can cause hypersomnia. Anemia is a medical condition in which a person’s blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells. As a result, oxygen flow to the body’s organs reduces, which causes overwhelming fatigue. Hypersomnia involves daytime drowsiness and an inability to stay awake, even when performing activities like driving or working. People with anemia frequently experience sleepiness during the day.

No. Sertraline is unlikely to cause hypersomnia because it prevents the neurological condition.

Sertraline is an antidepressant commonly known as Zoloft. The drug is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, which increases the serotonin levels in the brain and combats depression symptoms. People take sertraline to treat for their hypersomnia and narcolepsy since the medication increases a person’s energy and raises their spirits, which limits drowsiness.

Yes. Hypothyroidism can cause hypersomnia. Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of hormones by the thyroid gland, which is in the front of the neck. Fatigue is a symptom of hyperthyroidism. When the thyroid gland increases production of hormones, the body’s metabolism increases. As a person’s body increases its workload and burns fuel at a faster rate, people become fatigued and also experience frequent hunger.

While attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can co-occur with hypersomnia and other sleep disorders, it is unknown whether ADHD actually causes hypersomnia. One study conducted in 2006 discovered that children with ADHD were more likely than other children to have daytime sleepiness, which is the main symptom of hypersomnia. A study in 2004 found that half of children with ADHD had sleep-disordered breathing.

The symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsive thoughts or actions. The condition usually develops in childhood.

Yes. Suffering a stroke can result in hypersomnia. According to the National Stroke Association, sleeping issues are common after a stroke occurs. Common sleep issues that people experience after a stroke are insomnia, sleep-related breathing conditions and sleep-wake cycle disorders. A study conducted in 2013 that focused on post-stroke hypersomnia found that hypersomnia was common among people who experienced a stroke.

A person’s hypersomnia could worsen with time. However, there is no definite timeline for how hypersomnia progresses as someone ages. Idiopathic hypersomnia is generally caused by genetics, while secondary hypersomnia is due to psychological conditions. If a disorder, such as anxiety or depression, worsens, then so too could hypersomnia. However, people can receive treatment for their mental condition and sleep disorder through a medical professional.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not list hypersomnia as a condition that automatically qualifies someone for disability benefits. Therefore, whether someone with hypersomnia receives government assistance is decided on a case-by-case basis.

According to the Disability Benefits Help website, people who have hypersomnia must provide a residual functional capacity assessment. Completing an assessment can prove that the sleep disorder affects the person’s ability to work.

Yes, memory loss is a symptom of hypersomnia. When people experience the severe daytime drowsiness associated with hypersomnia, their ability to create or recall memories is less effective. People may have a harder time remembering past events, which could affect their performance at school or work. Additionally, tired people may have a tougher time learning new things or remembering events.

Yes. Hypersomnia can affect pregnancy by causing preeclampsia, which is a condition characterized by high blood pressure. Increased fatigue and drowsiness are common symptoms of first-trimester pregnancy. Hypersomnia causes extreme daytime drowsiness and can lead to people taking long naps during the day. According to the Family Doctor website, getting too much sleep can cause someone to develop preeclampsia. High blood pressure occurs due to excessive sleeping because of an increased amount of inflammatory chemicals.

The occurrence of hypersomnia varies depending on the type, primary or secondary. Primary hypersomnia affects approximately 1 percent of the American adult population while secondary hypersomnia affects around 4 percent. According to the American Sleep Association, hypersomnia is more prevalent in males than females. The disorder affects approximately 5 percent of American men.

No. Weight gain isn’t considered a common symptom of hypersomnia, which is a sleep disorder that involves daytime drowsiness and falling asleep during the day.

Regarding sleep disorders, weight gain is usually related to not getting enough sleep. However, having hypersomnia usually results in a person sleeping more than people without the disorder do, so weight gain due to a lack of sleep is not an issue.

Yes, hypersomnia is a common symptom of cancer due to the frequent fatigue that cancer and its treatment causes.

Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells multiply and destroy body tissue. Cancer causes people to lose energy and become extremely fatigued. Certain types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, can be physically draining and result in additional fatigue.

No. Hypersomnia is not considered an autoimmune disorder. There is no connection between hypersomnia and a person’s immune system.

Hypersomnia is similar to narcolepsy, another condition that involves overwhelming drowsiness during the day. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, there is growing evidence that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder.

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