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What is Hypersomnia and How Does It Affect Your Health?

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what is hypersomnia and how is your health affected by it Hemera/Thinkstock

Hypersomnia is a sleep condition in which the individual has either daytime sleepiness or excessive sleep at night.

During the night, someone with hypersomnia may sleep more than 10 hours, and it is difficult to rouse the individual when she is sleeping.

About 1 percent of the population has hypersomnia, with women being diagnosed more often than men, according to the American Sleep Association.

Poor sleep may cause hypersomnia, such as from working long hours. Nighttime shiftwork may contribute to hypersomnia, as it disrupts an individual’s circadian rhythms.

Broken sleep from noise or temperature changes, as well as jet lag, may cause hypersomnia. For some individuals, the cause is genetics.

This sleep disorder may also arise from medical conditions. Possible causes include antihistamines, sleeping pills and tranquilizers, according to the Better Health Channel.

Individuals who consume alcohol or caffeine may also have disrupted sleep.

Conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, head injury, depression, narcolepsy, encephalitis, fibromyalgia and sleep apnea are other possible causes.

The American Sleep Association pointed out that some individuals can have hypersomnia regardless of poor sleep hygiene and other sleep disorders. When there is no apparent cause, it is considered idiopathic hypersomnia.

Individuals who suffer from hypersomnia can have several symptoms, such as feeling tired throughout the day, drowsiness and needing daytime naps.

However, while individuals may feel the need for naps, they do not alleviate symptoms, noted the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Hypersomnia may affect individual’s concentration and thinking. The sleep disorder also puts individuals at an increased risk of accidents, such as motor vehicle accidents.

Treatment for hypersomnia falls into two categories. These categories are medication and behavioral changes.

Several medication options are available for hypersomnia. For example, an individual with hypersomnia may take a stimulant, such as modafinil, amphetamine or methylphenidate, to alleviate her symptoms.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke listed monoamine oxidase inhibitors, clonidine, antidepressants, levodopa and bromocriptine as other possible medications.

Individuals can make changes in their everyday life that may help treat their hypersomnia. The American Sleep Association noted that behavioral changes are one of the only treatments available for idiopathic hypersomnia.

Possible changes include avoiding alcohol and caffeine close to bed time, reducing disturbances in the bedroom, and creating a regular sleep schedule.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Hypersomnia Information Page. Web. 15 August 2012

American Sleep Association. Hypersomnia. Web. 15 August 2012

Better Health Channel. Hypersomnia. Web. 15 August 2012

Reviewed August 15, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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