Hypersomnia: Definition, Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments and Prevention

It is a condition in which the patient feels excessive sleepiness during the day. It can happen even after long hours of sleep.

Some people know this condition as excessive daytime sleepiness.

Secondary hypersomnia is the result of another medical condition. People with hypersomnia have difficulty functioning during the day because they are frequently tired, affecting concentration and energy levels.

Types of hypersomnia

Hypersomnia can present as follows:

  • Primary.
  • Secondary.

Primary hypersomnia occurs with no other medical conditions present. The only symptom is excessive fatigue.

Secondary hypersomnia is due to other medical conditions, such as the following diseases or conditions:

These conditions cause poor sleep at night, leading to the patient or affected feeling tired during the day.


Hypersomnia is not the same as narcolepsy, a neurological condition that causes bouts of tiredness and the urge to sleep suddenly and unavoidably throughout the day.

People with hypersomnia can stay awake independently but feel fatigued most of the time.


Primary hypersomnia is caused by problems in the brain systems that control sleep and wake functions.

Secondary hypersomnia is the result of conditions that cause fatigue or insufficient sleep. For example, sleep apnea can cause hypersomnia because it can cause trouble breathing at night, forcing people to wake up multiple times.

Some medications can also cause hypersomnia. Also, the frequent consumption of drugs or alcoholic beverages can cause drowsiness during the day.

Other possible causes are low thyroid function and head injury.

Profile of people at risk of suffering from hypersomnia

People with activities that tire them during the day are at higher risk for hypersomnia.

On the other hand, patients suffering from sleep apnea, kidney problems, heart conditions, brain conditions, atypical depression, and low thyroid function tend to suffer 85% from hypersomnia.

According to some studies, men are more likely to suffer from this condition than women. People who smoke or drink regularly are also at risk of developing hypersomnia.

Medications that cause drowsiness can have side effects similar to hypersomnia.

Symptoms of hypersomnia

The main symptom of hypersomnia is constant tiredness. People with this condition can nap during the day without relieving drowsiness. They also have difficulty waking up after long periods of sleep.

The other symptoms that hypersomnia includes are:

  • Low energy.
  • Irritability.
  • Anxiety.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow thinking or speaking
  • Difficulty remembering.
  • Restlessness.


To diagnose hypersomnia, a specialist doctor should review the patient, from the frequent symptoms to his medical history, in conjunction with physical, neuronal, and blood tests that will determine the state of the condition and how advanced it is.

Methods for evaluating the patient include:

  • Sleep diary: records the hours the patient is asleep and awake during the night to determine sleep patterns.
  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale: Scores the patient’s sleepiness to assess the severity of the condition.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test – Take a monitored nap during the day. The test measures the types of sleep you experience.
  • Polysomnogram: The patient stays in a rest center overnight. A machine monitors brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, oxygen levels, and respiratory function.

Treatments for hypersomnia

Treatments for this condition can vary, depending on the cause of your hypersomnia.

Many drugs for narcolepsy can treat hypersomnia by stimulating the body and helping you stay awake. Of which can be mentioned:

  • Amphetamines.
  • Methylphenidate.
  • Modafinil.

Lifestyle changes are a critical part of the treatment process.

A doctor can recommend a regular sleep schedule. Avoiding certain activities can also improve symptoms, especially at bedtime.

Most people with hypersomnia should not drink alcohol or use drugs. A doctor may also recommend a high-nutrient diet to maintain energy levels naturally.

Preventive methods

There is no way to prevent hypersomnia. The affected person can reduce the risk of hypersomnia by creating a peaceful sleep environment and avoiding alcohol.

Also, avoid medications that cause drowsiness and avoid working late into the night.

What is the long-term outlook for people with hypersomnia?

Some people with hypersomnia can improve their symptoms with the right lifestyle changes.

Medications can also help this condition. However, some people can never get complete relief. This is not a life-threatening condition, but it can affect the quality of life.