Every person has the minimum number of hours that they need to sleep. An average needs anywhere between 6- 8 hours of sleep every day. However, it has been observed that some people sleep for more than 10 hours at night. As if not enough, the take long naps during the day. This state of extreme sleepiness is scientifically referred to as hypersomnia. Extreme sleepiness is a sleeping disorder because it hinders normal activities during the day.
By definition, extreme sleepiness is described as either abnormal extended sleeping hours at night or during the day. In the US, about 5% of the population is affected by this condition. Majority of the patients are between the ages of 15 and 30.
Hypersomnia should be differentiated from the sleep debt. Sleep debt is the deficit created when you for some reasons do not get enough sleep at night. For example, if you do not sleep for 24 hours your body will compensate for this loss by oversleeping for next few hour. Sleep is the body’s natural way of forcing rest.
Losing Sleep? You May Need to Adjust Your Routine
There it is again. You’re almost asleep, just drifting off, and there’s that noise again – that cricket in your neighbor’s yard three doors down. Maybe you’re overreacting. Perhaps you need to change your routine. Experts at the University of Kentucky Sleep Disorders Center at Samaritan Hospital in Lexington indicate a few adjustments may relieve the frustration and lack of energy that results from regular sleep loss.
What’s your bedtime routine? Sometimes, a hot bath, a good book or soothing music can help prepare the mind and body for sleep. It helps to establish a routine that helps separate sleep time from activities that cause excitement, anxiety or stress. On weekends, changing a bedtime or sleeping in can upset the brain’s efforts to maintain your body’s balance of sleep and wake times. Eating habits can contribute to sleep problems. The last meal of the day should be two to three hours before your regular bedtime. Spicy foods that cause heartburn can interfere with sleep.
Regular exercise is important for health, but workouts probably should be completed a few hours before bedtime. Still, an exercise routine can make it easier to fall asleep and contribute to a sounder rest. Coffee and cigarettes may also be an evening no-no. Caffeine can remain in the body for three to five hours and possibly interfere with efforts to drop off. Meanwhile, nicotine can cause difficulty in falling asleep, problems with waking in the morning and nightmares.
“Consistently missing too much sleep can have negative consequences for mood, cognition, blood pressure, blood sugar, and even immune function,” said Dr. David Hiestand, a pulmonologist at the UK Chandler Hospital in Lexington. Conquering sleep problems may be as simple as changing the sleep environment. Blackout curtains and eye shades can help eliminate unwanted light, while air conditioners or fans can make the bedroom more comfortable.
But if those measures don’t work, sleep problems may indicate other health issues. “It helps to talk with your bed partner about activities that occur while you are sleeping that you may not be aware of, like kicking, snoring, choking or gasping for breath while you are asleep,” Hiestand said.
Hiestand recommended keeping a sleep diary for at least two weeks. The diary should record each day’s problems affecting sleep, sleep times, sleep-related activities and any medications you are taking. Then go see your doctor and take the diary along. It can help the doctor make a proper diagnosis.
Extreme Sleepiness: Types
There are three types if extreme sleepiness that affect people: recurrent, idiopathic and post traumatic. The recurrent type of extreme sleepiness is characterized by regular episodes of big sleep requirements. This condition has been observed to start in adolescence and affects males more than females. In fact, about 81% of the people affected are usually in the second decade of life. A person with this type of extreme sleepiness can sleep for up to 20 hours in a day.
In medicine, the word “idiopathic” means without a known cause. Idiopathic hypersomnia is extreme sleepiness without a known cause. It differs from narcolepsy in that the patients suffer from regular episodes of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep that can go on for more than 2 hours. In some quotas this disease is referred to as non-REM narcolepsy. In addition, unlike narcolepsy, the patients do not fall asleep suddenly neither do they lose muscle control nor have strong emotions.
Posttraumatic hypersomnia result from a disease that affects the nerves or due to physical brain injury. It can occur after brain surgery, infections or injury to the spinal cord. This kind of extreme sleepiness usually cures after a few weeks or months.
Here are the major causes of Extreme sleepiness:
- Inadequate sleep due to overtime or staying out late.
- External factors such as a snoring partner or excessive noise at night.
- Night work shift.
- Stress and depression.
- Use of drugs such as coffee, tea, alcohol and antihistamines.
- Change time zone.
- Medical drugs and conditions.
Extreme Sleepiness: Symptoms
- Feeling tired most of the times.
- Too many or long daytime naps.
- Memory and concentration problems.
- Indecisiveness and difficulty in making decisions.
- Falling asleep when doing chore such as driving.
Treatment and Coping Ideas
One of the major impacts of extreme sleepiness is it slows down the person’s life. As such, most of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat the disease are stimulants. The idea in treating extreme sleepiness is not to eliminate sleep but to return it to normalcy. Here are some home treatment remedies:
- Exercising about 5 hours before going to bed.
- Going to sleep and waking up at a set time everyday.
- Depending on the cause having afternoon naps can help.
- Avoiding beverages such as coffee and tea.
- Maintaining comfortable temperatures in the bedroom.
- Developing a before sleeping habit like reading a book.
- Avoiding the bed when it is not time to sleep.