Excessive Day Time Sleepiness

Excessive Day Time Sleepiness Specialist
Everyone has a day when they just can't seem to get going. If this goes on too long, this level of drowsiness can indicate an underlying problem. As a board-certified specialist in sleep medicine and internal medicine, Meena Mehta, MD in Concord, Massachusetts works with patients that suffer from a chronic condition characterized by persistent sleepiness and generalized fatigue. Daytime hypersomnia is a broad symptom of potentially serious conditions like narcolepsy or sleep apnea.

Excessive Day Time Sleepiness Q & A

Meena Mehta, MD

What is daytime hypersomnia?

Daytime hypersomnia, or excessive daytime sleepiness, is exactly what it sounds like – a persistent feeling of sleepiness throughout the day even when you’ve had plenty of sleep the night before. You may suffer from daytime hypersomnia if you have trouble staying awake during most days, and are always fighting off the urge to lay your head down and take a nap.

While there is nothing unusual about having the occasional sleepy day, if you are getting an adequate amount of sleep you should feel well rested during most of your waking hours. When that doesn't happen, it can be a signifying symptom of conditions such as:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep apnea
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorder

It goes beyond just feeling drowsy, too. This level of sleepiness can intensify until you can no longer complete even the simplest of tasks. It affects your work, your relationships, and your socialization.

What causes excessive daytime sleepiness?

There is no clear answer, which is why it is so important to seek help from a specialist like Dr. Mehta. She is can give you an evaluation that first distinguishes whether your condition falls into the category of "excessive" sleepiness. Once that is determined, Dr. Mehta will look for an underlying cause of the problem.

The diagnosis will include essential tools that help do the evaluation, such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale questionnaire and the Multiple Sleep Latency Test. Some common causes of excessive daytime sleepiness include:

  • Poor nighttime sleep
  • Malfunction of the circadian pacemaker
  • A sleep disorder
  • A mental health condition like major depressive disorder
  • A medical condition such as brain tumor or hypothyroidism
  • Drug abuse
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Reaction to medication

Dr. Mehta will do a comprehensive exam to figure out what is causing your sleepiness, and will work with you to find a way to counteract it.

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a condition where you experience excessive daytime drowsiness and sudden falling asleep. The exact cause is unknown. What researchers do know is people with this condition often have low levels of an important neurochemical that helps regulate wakefulness and certain sleep stages.

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