What is the effect of sleep on mental wellness

When it comes to Narcolepsy or hypersomnia: how to tell the difference? In this blog, we will discuss what hypersomnia is. Moreover, we’ll delve into how it is diagnosed. Other than that, we are going to cover effective treatment options available for hypersomnia. Continue reading below to find out what’s it like to live with hypersomnia.  

What is Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is a medical condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep. People with hypersomnia often feel excessively tired during the day, regardless of how much they sleep at night. This condition can significantly impact daily functioning, leading to difficulties in concentration, memory problems, and even social and occupational impairments. 

There are various underlying causes of hypersomnia. Including sleep disorders like sleep apnea or narcolepsy, as well as medical conditions, medications, or lifestyle factors. Treatment typically involves addressing the underlying cause and may include medications to help manage symptoms. 

How Is Hypersomnia Diagnosed?

Diagnosing hypersomnia typically involves a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional, often a sleep specialist. The process may include: 

  1. Medical History:

The healthcare provider will ask about the individual’s sleep patterns, overall health, medications, and any underlying medical conditions. 

  1. Sleep Diary:

Keeping a sleep diary for a while can help track sleep patterns and daytime symptoms, providing valuable information for diagnosis. 

  1. Physical Examination:

A physical examination may be conducted to check for signs of underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to excessive sleepiness. 

  1. Sleep Studies:

Polysomnography (PSG) may be conducted to monitor sleep patterns and identify any sleep disorders like sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder. Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) may also be performed to assess daytime sleepiness and to diagnose conditions like narcolepsy. 

  1. Blood Tests:

Blood tests may be ordered to check for underlying medical conditions like thyroid disorders or infections that could be causing excessive sleepiness. 

  1. Psychological Evaluation: 

In some cases, a psychological evaluation may be conducted to assess underlying conditions. These could include depression or anxiety, which can contribute to sleep disturbances. 

Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can be tailored to address the underlying cause of hypersomnia. This might involve lifestyle changes, medications, or other therapies depending on the specific circumstances of the individual. 

Symptoms of Hypersomnia

The primary symptom of hypersomnia is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Where individuals experience an overwhelming need to sleep during the day, even after getting a full night’s sleep. However, hypersomnia can present with other symptoms as well, including: 

  1. Difficulty Waking Up:

Despite sleeping for a long duration at night, individuals with hypersomnia may find it challenging to wake up in the morning. Thus, they may feel groggy or disoriented upon awakening. 

  1. Feeling Unrefreshed:

Despite sleeping for an extended period, individuals with hypersomnia may not feel refreshed upon waking up. As a result, they may continue to feel tired throughout the day. 

  1. Difficulty Concentrating:

Excessive sleepiness can impair concentration, memory, and cognitive function, making it difficult to focus on tasks or stay alert. 

  1. Memory Problems:

Hypersomnia can also lead to memory difficulties, including trouble remembering things or retaining new information. 

  1. Irritability:

Feeling excessively tired can contribute to irritability, mood swings, and decreased tolerance for stress or frustration. 

  1. Decreased Energy Levels:

Individuals with hypersomnia may experience a significant decrease in energy levels, making it challenging to engage in daily activities or exercise. 

  1. Increased Appetite:

Some people with hypersomnia may experience an increase in appetite. Hence particularly craving for high-carbohydrate foods, as the body tries to compensate for low energy levels. 

  1. Difficulty with Work or School:

Excessive daytime sleepiness can interfere with daily activities, work performance, and academic performance. Therefore, leading to difficulties in maintaining employment or achieving academic success. 

It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity from person to person and may fluctuate over time. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of hypersomnia, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and appropriate management. 

Treatment Options for Hypersomnia

The treatment of hypersomnia depends on the underlying cause and the severity of symptoms. Here are some common treatment options: 

  1. Addressing Underlying Sleep Disorders:

If hypersomnia is caused by another sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, treating the underlying condition is often the first step. This may involve using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for sleep apnea or medications to manage symptoms of narcolepsy.

  1. Medications:

Stimulant medications, such as modafinil or methylphenidate, may be prescribed to help improve wakefulness. Since they reduce excessive daytime sleepiness in some cases of hypersomnia. These medications work by stimulating the central nervous system. 

  1. Lifestyle Changes:

Adopt healthy sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine.  Additionally avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime can help improve sleep quality and reduce daytime sleepiness. 

  1. Napping Strategies:

Strategic napping during the day can help manage daytime sleepiness for some individuals with hypersomnia. Short, scheduled naps (usually 10-30 minutes) may provide a temporary boost in alertness without interfering with nighttime sleep. 

  1. Behavioral Therapy:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or other behavioral therapies may be beneficial for individuals with hypersomnia.  Particularly if there are psychological factors contributing to their sleep disturbances. 

  1. Light Therapy:

In some cases, exposure to bright light in the morning may help regulate the sleep-wake cycle and improve daytime alertness. Especially for individuals with hypersomnia related to circadian rhythm disorders. 

  1. Dietary Changes:

Avoiding heavy meals, especially close to bedtime, and maintaining a balanced diet can support healthy sleep patterns and reduce daytime sleepiness.

  1. Regular Exercise:

Engaging in regular physical activity can promote better sleep quality and overall wakefulness during the day. However, it’s important to avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as it may interfere with sleep. 

Treatment for hypersomnia is often individualized based on the specific needs and circumstances of the person affected. A healthcare provider, typically a sleep specialist, can help determine the most appropriate treatment approach through a comprehensive evaluation. 

What’s It Like to Live with Hypersomnia?

Living with hypersomnia presents numerous challenges, as individuals contend with overwhelming daytime sleepiness regardless of adequate nocturnal rest. This persistent fatigue disrupts daily functioning, impairing concentration, memory, and cognitive abilities. As a result, maintaining productivity at work or school becomes arduous, leading to frustration. Social interactions and relationships may suffer, as individuals struggle to muster the energy for social engagements or sustain connections amidst constant tiredness. 

Wrapping It Up

Hypersomnia’s emotional toll is significant, marked by feelings of irritability, low mood, and a sense of isolation exacerbated by societal misunderstanding. Thus, contributing to stigma surrounding the condition. Safety concerns loom large, particularly when tasks requiring focus, such as driving or operating machinery, become perilous under the weight of excessive sleepiness. 

Despite these challenges, seeking treatment, adopting healthy sleep habits, and garnering support can empower individuals. Thanks to sleep telemedicine services, people with hypersomnia can navigate life more effectively and find moments of fulfillment amidst the struggle. 

Also Read: Glycogen and Health: Exploring the Connection

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