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What is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

The human body has a sleep-wake cycle. An average individual needs 6-8 hours of night sleep. Excessive sleepiness refers to when the individual feels drowsy even after sleeping at night. This becomes a problem when the routine activities and the job of the person gets affected.

What are the causes of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

The causes can be categorized as lifestyle, medical and psychiatric.

Lifestyle causes

  • Poor sleep habits like falling asleep in the late hours of the morning, sleeping late and getting less nighttime sleep, excessive stress leading to decreased nighttime sleep can lead to sleepiness in the daytime.

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

Medical causes

  • Hypothyroidism: Decreased thyroid hormone levels can affect the brain leading to increased lethargy and drowsiness in the individual.
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea: These individuals have problems in breathing during sleeping leading to frequent episodes of awakening in the middle of the night. This leads to compromised sleep which in turn causes drowsiness and sleep spells during the day.
  • Restless leg syndrome: It is a disorder of the nervous system leading to an uncontrolled involuntary urge to move the legs in sitting or lying down position especially in the evening and night. This constant leg movement can disrupt the sleep of the person leading to daytime sleepiness.
  • Parkinson’s Disorder
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Medication: Patients suffering from insomnia, depression, anxiety are often prescribed medications to help them sleep which leads to increased drowsiness in the day time as a side effect among other symptoms.

Psychiatric causes

  • Anxiety and Depression: Individuals with anxiety and depression either suffer from insomnia or excessive sleepiness
  • Narcolepsy: This is a disorder where there is deficiency of certain chemicals leading to increased sleep and other symptoms
  • Insomnia: People suffering from insomnia have excessive sleepiness in daytime as result of compromised sleep at night due to various reasons.

Also Read: Remedies to fight Insomnia in elderly

What are the symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness?

  • Sudden sleep spells in the day
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Making lapses in judgments
  • Inability to concentrate

What are the investigations for excessive daytime sleepiness?

The investigations depend upon the type of causes suspected. Blood tests, thyroid hormone levels will be advised in case of hypothyroidism. In other causes like obstructive sleep apnoea a complete ear nose throat (ENT) examination is done followed by the appropriate investigations.

MRI and CT scan can be done in individuals of suspected Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism etc to understand the diagnosis and the severity of the disease. In the case of suspected psychiatric causes, investigations are not required. The doctor asks various questions pertaining to their sleep patterns, how much they sleep at night, their mood patterns and other questions to reach the diagnosis.

Also Read: 5 Apps That Will Help Older Adults Sleep Better

What is the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness?

It is important to have a proper sleep schedule and to improve sleeping habits. Certain techniques to help the person sleep properly at night can help.

If any medical cause is detected, it should be promptly treated. Also, the doctor can prescribe medicines to treat depression and anxiety in individuals. However, the correct dose and the correct medicine is important in this case as these medicines cause increased sleep during the day. If the medication is found to be the culprit, it should be stopped and an alternative can be given. In some cases, doctors can prescribe modafenil to the patients.

In cases where the cause is unknown or cannot be treated, symptomatic treatment is given.

Also Read: 10 Magical Herbs by Ayurveda for Holistic Health

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