Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality sleep per night to function properly. If you have hypersomnia, you’ll find yourself needing considerably more. Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder that causes an abnormal increase in your total sleep need. Hypersomnia is considered the opposite of insomnia (hypersomnia) and other sleep disorders that cause a reduction in your total sleep.
Compared to sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, hypersomnia is relatively rare. Scientists calculate that approximately 4-6% of the world’s population suffers from conditions that increase sleepiness. Sleep disorders that fall under primary hypersomnia make up less than 1% of this estimate.
Symptoms of Hypersomnia
There are many common symptoms that are present in both primary and secondary hypersomnia. These symptoms include:
Excessive Sleep. You may sleep more than the average 7-9 hours per day, with many sleeping greater than 12 hours.
Daytime Sleepiness. Hypersomnia causes abnormal sleepiness during the day in spite of getting plenty of sleep at night. You may have a strong urge to take frequent naps.
Inappropriate Sleeping. Hypersomnia makes it much easier to nod off. You may find yourself falling asleep at work or during other activities where sleep would not normally occur.
Difficulty Waking. You might find it extremely difficult to wake up even with the aid of multiple alarms.
Sleep Inertia. Sleep inertia, also called sleep drunkenness, occurs when your brain has difficulty transitioning from the asleep to the awake state. This causes you to feel mentally and physically impaired and is comparable to being drunk.
Excessive Napping. Hypersomnia increases your urge to nap. You may find you need several long naps throughout the day, although they’re seldom refreshing.
Cognitive Dysfunction. Hypersomnia can affect your cognitive function and you may experience problems with your attention, learning, and memory.
Lifestyle Changes for Hypersomnia
There are many achievable changes you can make in your life to help reduce the severity of your hypersomnia. These changes include:
Reduce Drugs and Alcohol. Restricting the intake of drugs and alcohol can help you reduce your symptoms of hypersomnia. Alcohol and some drugs lead to the sedation effects that cause increased sleepiness.
Better Sleep Hygiene. Maintaining a strict sleep schedule and adhering to good sleep hygiene will help you achieve better rest. Anything that negatively impacts your sleep or circadian rhythm will make your hypersomnia worse.
Medication. You may need to start taking medication to help you stay awake during the day. These include various stimulants.
Adjust Your Schedule. You may need to adjust your work, social, or school schedule to accommodate your disorder. This may mean scheduling work or classes at times of the day when you’re less likely to feel sleepy. Some individuals with primary hypersomnia go into professions that are flexible and allow them to work later in the day.
Exercise. Research has shown that exercise helps reduce daytime sleepiness associated with hypersomnia. Eat Healthier. Certain food can make your fatigue and sleepiness worse. These include foods with high fat and sugar content. A healthy diet will not only help your body produce energy more efficiently but will also help to prevent nutritional deficiencies associated with hypersomnia.