Hypersomnia refers to both excessive sleepiness during the day and/or excessive sleeping. For a true diagnosis, either or both of these symptoms must have occurred for at least a 3 month period. Hypersomniacs suffer extreme fatigue most of the time and thus have problems functioning on a day to day basis. This sleep disorder, like narcolepsy with cataplexy and narcolepsy without cataplexy is a life-affecting sleep disorder.
Hypersomnia, or hypersomnolence disorder has two categories:
• Secondary hypersomnia: This type of hypersomnia occurs secondary to another condition. There are many underlying causes, these include; epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), depression, Parkinson’s disease, guillain-barre syndrome and obesity to list but a few. Both the use and withdrawal of some medications may also lead to secondary hypersomnia.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypersomniacs
Diagnosis and tests for hypersomnia
A diagnosis of hypersomnia is made by reviewing the patient’s symptoms and medical history and, if necessary, conducting further tests.
One of the tests for hypersomnia is called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This test determines the severity of the symptoms by rating the chances of dozing off in different situations. If you are interested about your nodding off habits, take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale test here. patient’s sleepiness.
Keeping a Sleep Diary may be advised in order to record the sleeping and waking patterns of a patient throughout the day and night. The family physician may refer you to a sleep specialist for further tests.
A multiple sleep latency test can also be requested. This test is usually carried out at a sleep center and monitors how quickly a patient falls asleep throughout the day. Both rem sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-rem sleep are monitored The monitoring of these naps is to make a diagnosis of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
In-addition, doctors can use an overnight polysomnogram. This is also known as a ‘sleep study‘ and is carried out using machines that monitor brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, oxygen levels, and breathing function whilst the patient sleeps over night at a sleep center.
Treatment of hypersomnia
The first line of treatment for Hypersomnia treatment, as for all sleep disorders is to develop good sleep hygiene. Exactly what to do to promote a good nighttime sleep can be found in our Top Tips for healthy Sleep.
Medications may be prescribed by your doctor to help the symptoms of Hypersomnia.
- Stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) or modafinil (Provigil) are often used in the treatment of Hypersomnia. Maintain your sleep diary when taking these drugs because strangely enough one of the side effects can be sleep disturbances.
- Antidepressant medications, for example, fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa) and paroxetine (Paxil), may also be prescribed.
- Sodium oxybate (Xyrem) is a controlled substance and is used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness. It depresses the central nervous system and is also used to treat patients narcolepsy.