Do You Feel Excessively Sleepy?

Excessive sleepiness is when you feel exceptionally tired or sleepy during the day. This sleepiness can interfere with your daily activities. In two different studies, more than 50% of the older adults over 65 years of age were found to be suffering from insomnia or inability to sleep at night which, in turn, leads to sleepiness in the daytime.

Excessive sleepiness is not a disease but is usually a symptom of another underlying medical condition. It can be treated by determining the underlying cause.

Also Read: Remedies to Fight Insomnia in Elderly

Causes of Excessive Sleepiness

Any condition that makes you have disturbed sleep at night may cause excessive daytime sleepiness. In many cases, the person who has excessive sleepiness might not realize symptoms but the bed partner might.

Here are some of the causes that result in excessive sleepiness:

  1. Sleep Apnoea: Sleep apnoea is the condition in which you stop breathing for short periods of time. It is a potentially serious condition. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnoea caused due to a blockage in the breathing canals. People with sleep apnoea tend to wake up recurrently as their brain wakes them up as the oxygen levels in the body go down. This may result in excessive daytime sleepiness even if the person does not recall the constant waking-ups throughput the night. Snoring is a major symptom of sleep apnoea. It can also lead to other issues like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
  2. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): RLS causes an uncomfortable and uneasy crawling sensation especially in your legs. It creates an urge to move your legs continuously. Movement gives temporary relief. The cause of RLS is not clear, though iron deficiency is linked to many RLS cases.
  3. Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that may not disrupt night sleep but might cause excessive sleepiness in the daytime. It is a rare condition that can be often wrongly diagnosed as a psychiatric condition.
  4. Depression: Depression is a major cause of change in your sleep cycle. A person with depression can sleep much more or much less than before. Depression is a psychiatric disorder that needs proper treatment. It may keep you awake at night and cause excessive sleepiness in the daytime.
  5. Medication side effects: Some medication that you might be taking for other medical conditions may cause excessive drowsiness in the daytime. Medications that treat high BP, antidepressants, antihistamines (used for treating blocked nose), antiemetic drugs (used for treating nausea and vomiting), antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs all cause excessive sleepiness. You may talk to the doctor about your medications if they are making you sleepy.
  6. Aging: As you age, the quality of sleep deteriorates. Right from middle age, you start getting lesser sleep and spend more time waking up throughout the night. According to a study, deep sleep cycles keep decreasing from middle age. In fact, older adults in their 90s have no deep sleep cycle at all.

Also Read: Foods to Eat for a Good Night’s Sleep

Good sleep is a necessity. However, excessive sleepiness can cause low productivity and fatigue. If you recognize the symptoms of excessive sleepiness, try to consult your doctor about it and get treated for the same. This way you will feel more energetic and will be able to concentrate on daily activities better.

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