Hypersomnia: Causes and Symptoms

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Comprehending the intricacies of hypersomnia is a critical factor for sustaining an invigorating lifestyle. This blog post will delve into the complexities of hypersomnia and its impact on daily life. We will explore common symptoms associated with excessive daytime sleepiness and how they can disrupt one's routine.

Moreover, we will consider potential sources of hypersomnia, which can include both lifestyle aspects and medical conditions that could lead to extreme drowsiness during the day. In addition, you'll learn about various sleep disorders related to hypersomnia such as narcolepsy types 1 & 2 and idiopathic insomnia management options.

To help identify if you or someone you know might be experiencing hypersomnia, we will cover diagnostic tools like sleep studies and multiple latency tests along with assessments using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Finally, our discussion on managing hypersomnia will provide valuable insights into establishing healthy routines and addressing underlying health conditions while also exploring risk factors that may predispose an individual to developing this challenging condition.


Understanding Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia, or excessive daytime sleepiness, can be a real snooze fest that affects work, family, and social life, and is characterized by various sleep disorders such as idiopathic hypersomnia, central hypersomnia, and insufficient sleep syndrome.

Effects of Hypersomnia on Daily Life

  • Social interactions: Excessive sleepiness can make it hard to keep up with friends and family.
  • Cognitive function: Daytime sleepiness can make it tough to remember things, concentrate, and make decisions.
  • Mental health: Being tired all the time can contribute to mood disorders like depression or anxiety.
  • Risk of accidents: People with hypersomnia are more likely to have accidents while driving or operating machinery due to impaired alertness.

Common Symptoms of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

  1. Frequent napping during the day despite getting sufficient nocturnal sleep.
  2. Persistent feelings of drowsiness even after waking up from long sleep time.
  3. Inability to stay awake for extended periods without feeling fatigued.
  4. Sleep drunkenness - episodes where one wakes up disoriented with poor coordination.
  5. Sleep paralysis - temporary inability to move upon falling asleep or waking up.

Realizing the signs and implications of hypersomnia is critical for accurate identification and treatment. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, consult with a sleep medicine specialist to discuss your concerns.

Potential Causes of Hypersomnia

Various factors such as autonomic nervous system dysregulation, alcohol or drug use and certain medications may cause excessive daytime sleepiness.

  • Autonomic nervous system dysregulation: Disorders affecting the autonomic nervous system can contribute to hypersomnolence.
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use: Consuming large amounts of alcohol or using drugs that affect sleep patterns may lead to central hypersomnia symptoms.
  • Certain medications affecting sleep patterns: Some prescription medications may cause excessive daytime sleepiness as a side effect.

In some cases, idiopathic hypersomnia occurs without any identifiable cause, and it requires proper diagnosis and management.

It's essential to address primary health conditions causing central disorders, maintain good sleeping habits, and avoid triggers known for exacerbating symptoms associated with insufficient sleep syndrome.

If you're experiencing persistent daytime fatigue despite adequate nocturnal rest periods, it's important to consider possible medical disorders and evaluate whether lifestyle factors might play a role in developing these issues. A specialist can assist in deciding the best way forward, tailored to individual requirements and preferences.

Sleep Disorders Associated with Hypersomnia

Various sleep disorders have different symptoms and treatments related to excessive daytime sleepiness.

Narcolepsy Type 1 (with Cataplexy)

Narcolepsy type 1 is a rare medical disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden muscle weakness or paralysis during strong emotions (cataplexy), and abnormal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep patterns.

It can start in youth or teenage years and may have a major effect on someone's wellbeing.

Narcolepsy Type 2 (without Cataplexy)

Narcolepsy type 2 does not involve cataplexy but still presents with excessive daytime sleepiness and other common hypersomnia symptoms.

Orexin levels are generally lower in individuals with Narcolepsy Type 1 compared to those with Type 2, forming the primary distinction between them.

Both forms of narcolepsy require proper diagnosis through tools such as the multiple sleep latency test and Epworth Sleepiness Scale.

Treatment options for narcolepsy include FDA-approved medications, lifestyle changes, and management of coexisting health conditions.

Idiopathic hypersomnia, central hypersomnia, medical-caused hypersomnolence, long sleep periodicity and obstructive slumber apnea are further disorders affiliated with an abundance of snoozing.

Proper diagnosis through tools such as nocturnal polysomnography and the multiple sleep latency test is essential for effective treatment of sleep disorders.

Management of sleep inertia, sleep drunkenness, and sleep paralysis may also be necessary for individuals with hypersomnia symptoms.

It is crucial to seek medical attention if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness or other sleep disorder symptoms to improve your quality of life.

Mood Disorders and Hypersomnolence

Mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and SAD may lead to hypersomnolence.

Depression and Insomnia

Major depressive disorder is often associated with sleep disturbances, including insomnia or excessive sleepiness.

Bipolar Disorder and Sleep

Both manic and depressive episodes of bipolar disorder can lead to disrupted sleep patterns.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Sleep

  • SAD can result in either insomnia or hypersomnia depending on the severity and duration of each episode.
  • Treatment for SAD may involve light therapy, psychotherapeutic approaches, or medicinal interventions.

Accurately diagnosing and treating emotional disorders can have a noteworthy effect on sleep quality and lessen excessive daytime tiredness in those impacted.

Insufficient Sleep Syndrome

Insufficient sleep syndrome occurs when a person persistently fails to get enough sleep due to factors such as night shift work or other commitments preventing them from obtaining the recommended hours, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness and various health issues.

Shift work disorder is common among individuals who work irregular hours, including overnight shifts and rotating schedules, disrupting their circadian rhythm and making it difficult to fall asleep during designated rest periods, resulting in insufficient sleep and increased daytime sleepiness.

Lifestyle Factors Affecting Sleep Quality

  • Poor sleep hygiene: Inconsistent bedtime routines, exposure to screens before bed, or an uncomfortable sleeping environment can contribute to poor quality nocturnal sleep.
  • Caffeine consumption: Consuming caffeine too close to bedtime may interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
  • Sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes interruptions in breathing during nighttime slumber, leading to people waking up multiple times without realizing it, causing fragmented inadequate restorative rest, making one feel excessively sleepy during the day.

Diagnosing and Treating Hypersomnia

If you're feeling excessively sleepy during the day, it's important to talk to a doctor and get diagnosed with tools like sleep studies, the multiple sleep latency test, and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.

  • Nocturnal polysomnography: An overnight sleep study that monitors various body functions during nocturnal sleep.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT): A daytime nap study that measures how quickly you fall asleep in quiet situations throughout the day.
  • Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT): Similar to MSLT but assesses an individual's ability to stay awake during periods of insufficient sleep syndrome or excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale: A self-report questionnaire used as a screening tool for various sleep disorders.

Prescription Medication Options for Treatment

For those with various medical conditions, prescription medications like Modafinil, Sodium oxybate (Xyrem), and Methylphenidate (Ritalin) may be used to manage hypersomnia symptoms.

  1. Modafinil: A central nervous system stimulant used to treat excessive sleepiness caused by narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work-related insomnia.
  2. Sodium oxybate (Xyrem): Specifically approved for treating cataplexy and excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy type 1.
  3. Methylphenidate (Ritalin): An off-label option that may be prescribed to manage symptoms of hypersomnia due to other medical conditions or mood disorders.

It's crucial to address any underlying health conditions contributing to your hypersomnia symptoms, and your doctor will help determine the best course of action based on your specific situation.

Managing Hypersomnia: Tips and Techniques

While there's no cure for hypersomnia, you can take steps to improve your quality of life.

Stick to a Routine

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body's internal clock.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

  • Alcohol: It might seem like alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, but it can negatively impact your overall sleep quality.
  • Caffeine: Consuming caffeinated beverages or foods late in the day can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.

Create a Peaceful Environment

Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet.

Address Underlying Conditions

If an underlying medical condition is the cause of your hypersomnia, such as sleep apnea or multiple sclerosis, seek professional help for treatment.

Remember, managing hypersomnia is a process, but with the right techniques and support, you can improve your symptoms and get the rest you need.

FAQs in Relation to Hypersomnia

What is the main cause of hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia can be caused by various factors, including sleep disorders like narcolepsy and sleep apnea, medical conditions such as depression or brain injuries, certain medications, substance abuse, and poor sleep habits. In some cases, the exact cause remains unknown (idiopathic hypersomnia).

Is hypersomnia a mental disorder?

Hypersomnia is not classified as a mental disorder but rather a neurological condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. However, it may be associated with other mental health issues like depression or anxiety that could contribute to its development.

Is hypersomnia recognized as a disability?

In some cases, severe forms of hypersomnia may qualify for disability benefits if they significantly impair an individual's ability to work or perform daily activities. It depends on the severity of symptoms and their impact on functioning in specific situations.

Which deficiency causes hypersomnia?

There isn't one specific deficiency known to cause hypersomnia; however, deficiencies in vitamins D and B12 have been linked to fatigue and increased daytime sleepiness. Maintaining proper nutrition can help support overall energy levels and promote healthy sleep patterns. [source]


Hypersomnia is a condition that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and can seriously impact daily life.

Common symptoms include difficulty staying awake during the day and feeling unrefreshed after sleeping.

Lifestyle factors like poor sleep habits and medical conditions such as narcolepsy or idiopathic insomnia can contribute to hypersomnolence.

A sleep study or multiple latency test may be necessary for diagnosis, and management options range from establishing healthy routines to addressing underlying medical conditions.

If you're experiencing symptoms of hypersomnia, it's important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and appropriate treatment plan.

By grasping the probable origins of this disorder and taking action to control it, people with hypersomnia can upgrade their wellbeing and general health.

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