What is Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia — also known as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) — is a condition that causes people to feel tired and drowsy during the day when they need to be awake and alert. People with hypersomnia can feel excessively sleepy even after they have slept for a long time and have trouble concentrating on important tasks because they are so tired.

Two Types of Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is categorized as two different types: 1. In primary hypersomnia the only symptom is excessive sleepiness and fatigue. There are no other medical conditions present. 2. In secondary hypersomnia other medical conditions are present and contributing to excessive daytime sleepiness. Related contributing conditions can include sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

What Causes Hypersomnia?

Sleep apnea can be one underlying cause of hypersomnia, because it disrupts normal breathing patterns while sleeping, thereby prompting people to wake up repeatedly throughout the night. Certain medications as well as drug and alcohol use can also trigger hypersomnia. Low thyroid function and head injury can also lead to hypersomnia.

Who Is At Risk For Hypersomnia?

People who suffer from sleep apnea, kidney disease, heart disease, abnormal brain functioning, depression, and low thyroid levels are at risk for developing hypersomnia. Smoking, drinking and certain medications can also lead to hypersomnia. Men are more likely than women to have hypersomnia, according to The American Sleep Association. (1)

What Are The Symptoms Of Hypersomnia?

People with hypersomnia say their main symptoms are feeling constantly tired during the day when they need to be awake and alert. No matter how much they sleep, they never feel completely rested. They also have difficulty waking from long periods of sleep.

How Is Hypersomnia Diagnosed?

Hypersomnia is diagnosed using a specialized machine called a polysomnogram that monitors brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, oxygen levels and breathing function. Patients may also be asked to record their sleep patterns in a sleep diary and to rate their overall level of sleepiness using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Your doctor may also prescribe a multiple sleep latency test where you will take a monitored nap during the day. The test measures the types of sleep you experience.

How Is Hypersomnia Treated?

Hypersomnia can be treated with stimulating medications such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, and modafinil that are designed to help patients stay awake and alert. Some people are able to overcome hypersomnia by making lifestyle changes in their daily routines and sleep habits, including:

  • Refraining from alcohol and drug use;
  • Improving one’s diet to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients to maintain energy levels naturally;
  • Establishing a regular time to go to bed and wake up each morning.

Where to Find a Good Hypersomnia Doctor

The sleep experts at Comprehensive Neurology and Medicine have more than 30 years experience diagnosing and successfully treating thousands of patients throughout Maryland for hypersomnia, insomnia, and other common sleep disorders. Dr. Konrad Bakker is board certified in sleep medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine as well as board certified in sleep by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Sarah E. Jamieson is a physician’s assistant with specialized training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of hypersomnia and other sleep disorders. Together, Dr. Bakker and Ms. Jamieson will listen to you carefully and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you overcome RLS so that you can get the sleep you need and enjoy a better quality of life. Call us today at (301) 694-0900 to schedule an appointment. Virtual appointments are also available, allowing you to receive a hypersomnia consultation via our own phone or computer in the comfort of your home.

Information about Insomnia


(1) https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-disorders/more-sleep-disorders/hypersomnia/