Why do I Feel Sleepy? Coping with Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Do you feel sleepy during the day despite having a good night’s sleep? This may be a sign of a serious sleep disorder, ‘narcolepsy. This health condition causes excessive daytime sleepiness. In severe cases, patients fall asleep at virtually any time, anywhere. This may be precisely dangerous if you drive or work in the kitchen.

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy leads to loss of muscle control while experiencing strong emotions. Patients also have vivid dreams and hallucinations when they are sleepy. So why does one feel sleepy despite enjoying a good night’s sleep?

One of the major reasons behind this is fragmented and poor quality sleep at night which the patient is not aware of. This is owing to the rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep one tends to experience at night. Sometimes they feel rejuvenated and refreshed after short naps during the day.

Hypersomnia

Another health condition that causes excessive sleep during daytime is hypersomnia. This condition also interferes with daily life.

The Causes

There are many causes of hypersomnia such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnoea that interfere with night-time sleep. Others include:

  • A head injury in the past
  • Severe sleep deprivation
  • Depression
  • Medications (such as tranquillisers)
  • Misuse of drug
  • Alcohol absuse

Additionally, some people with hypersomnia do not have an underlying health condition.

Idiopathic Hypersomnia

This condition makes it really difficult for patients stay awake during the day. They take frequent long naps. The problem is that patient tends to sleep at inappropriate times such as having a meal or driving.

In all of the above listed sleep related disorders, patients sleep for over 10 hours a night. However, they still struggle to stay awake during the day. They feel drowsy and confused upon waking. This is similar to sleep drunkenness. Medically, the quality of sleep in those suffering from idiopathic hypersomnia is good.

Those suffering from idiopathic hypersomnia may also show the following signs:

  • Anxiety
  • Low energy
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Slow speech
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Slow thinking

The above listed symptoms usually develop during adolescence. Sometimes the problem run through the early twenties or occurs later in life.

What should be done?

In case, you feel constantly drowsy during the day and worried about its impact on your daily, meet a doctor at the earliest. The doctor will assess your sleeping habits, the amount of sleep you get at night, whether or not you wake up at night, etc.

Assessment of Problems

Your health care practitioner will assess any emotional problems you have been suffering such as depression. He would evaluate the impact of any drugs you have been taking on your sleep. He may order tests in order to see if your sleepiness is caused owing to any of the above listed sleep disorders.

Tests

Depending on the symptoms, you may be asked to have some of the following tests:

  • Polysomography
  • Multiple sleep latency test

The Treatment

The doctor will suggest you to take some antidepressants and make changes in your lifestyle. Antidepressants are usually prescribed if the sleep disorder is caused due to emotional problems interfering with your sleep.

You may need to make the following lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • No social activities that delay bedtime
  • Skip caffeine
  • Give up medications that make the condition worse
  • No working at night

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