Hypersomnia | Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Hypersomnia is the inability to stay awake and active in the daytime in spite of having more than an adequate amount of nighttime sleep. Hypersomnia mostly refers to excessive sleep.

Symptoms of Hypersomnia

Excessive sleepiness or hypersomnia is diagnosed by some symptoms which are described below:

  • Food aversion
  • Aches mostly headache
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Lower energy
  • Repetitive episodes of extreme sleep during the day
  • Slothfulness, slow speech, ineffectiveness in focusing or concentration process, memory loss or forgetfulness
  • More sleep than average such as 10 or more hours.
  • Yet still having feelings of being sleepy
Hypersomnia Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Hypersomnia Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Causes of hypersomnia:

There are many imaginable causes of hypersomnia. These causes are depicted below have a look

  • Misuses of beverages such as alcohol or drugs
  • Any family history of genetic issues causing hypersomnia
  • Anxiety or chronic depression
  • Overweight gain
  • Lower rate of sleeping at night
  • Other sleep disorders may indulge in causing hypersomnia such as narcolepsy ( excessive sleep during day time), sleep apnea( obtrusion in breathing activity while sleeping)
  • Any injury mainly head traumas or injuries or neurological disorders
  • Recommended drugs such as calmative drugs etc.

Types of Hypersomnia:

There are some major types of hypersomnia which are given below:

  • Idiopathic hypersomnia
  • Kleine- Levin syndrome
  • Narcolepsy type 1
  • Narcolepsy type 2

Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) is an uncommon sleep disorder in which a patient feels irritability and tiredness during day time. It causes a crave sleep and unconsciousness during the day. You may feel sleepy even if you get adequate sleep during the night or take naps, but you don’t feel refreshed after sleeping.

Symptoms of Idiopathic Hypersomnia:

  • Brain fog
  • Headache
  • Arduous to fulfill activities of daily life
  • Excessive sleep which may prolong from 9 to 11 hours out of 24 hours a day
  • The feeling of being tired after sleep
Idiopathic Hypersomnia
Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Narcolepsy type 1:

Narcolepsy is also a type of hypersomnia that is associated with the loss of a neurotransmitter in the brain known as hypocretin. This neurotransmitter controls the periodic cycle of sleep- awakening. Basically, narcolepsy is considered more severe than type 2. Researchers found that there is a strong association between genetics and narcolepsy type 1, hypocretin, usually called orexin by doctors, may be severely damaged or doesn’t exist in patients. Sometimes environmental toxins, family history, tumor or brain tumors, and infections may spike hypersomnia.


You may notice some symptoms if you are an ongoing patient of narcolepsy type 1:

  • Interruption in sleep at night
  • Hallucination
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone

Narcolepsy type 2:

Narcolepsy with cataplexy is referred to as narcolepsy type 2. This type of hypersomnia includes uncontrolled sleepiness but usually does not have any weakened muscle state triggered by emotions. Narcolepsy’s prevalence rate is not fully known because it is harder to diagnose but an approximate estimation manifested that 30 to 34 per 100,000 people suffer from type 2 narcolepsy.

Symptoms :

Symptoms of narcolepsy type 2 are the same as those of type 1 narcolepsy including changes in rapid eye movement sleep disorder.

Kleine- levin syndrom

Kleine- Levin syndrome is a rare disorder distinguished by immoderate sleepiness i.e, up to 20 hours a day, glutting, and changes in behavior such as atypically uninhibited sexual drive. It usually affects youthful males. Affected individuals may suffer from irritability, lethargy, and apathy ( lack of emotions).


Cataplexy is a loss of muscle tone in which muscles suddenly undergo hobbling or weaken without any warning sign. Strong emotional agitation or extreme disturbance may lead to cataplexy. Feeling of being annoyed, irritated, laughing, crying, and sometimes dominant feelings of losing facial expressions

Negative impacts on the brain’s chemistry:

In human brains, a chemical, GABA also known as Gama- amino butyric acid is present which works to calm us down after binding to its specific receptor. Now research has found that this mystery chemical in CSF( Cerebrospinal fluid: it is a fluid that leaves the brain and spinal cord ), hypersomnia changes its biophysical properties.

Hypersomnia after changing the brain’s chemistry may spike to memory disorders after an experiment it was concluded that memory disorders are reported by 79% of hypersomnia patients, attention disorders by 55%, making blunders in usual activities by 61%, and feelings of being blanked from the mind are reported by 58%.

Side Effects of Hypersomnia on the Body

Hypersomnia  has adverse effects on the mind as well as the body here we will see its impacts on the body:

Heart Diseases Caused by Hypersomnia

Modern research revealed that sleeping more than seven or less than six hours a night usually correlates with a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. Multiple studies revealed that daytime sleepiness more than usual may spike to coronary heart disease ( CHD).

Weight Gain and Associated Disorders

It has been now manifested that hypersomnia which is an uncommonly increasing rate of sleepiness makes a person less active because it turns them lethargic so more likely to gain weight. Another fact is amazing that people with hypersomnia or tiredness mostly choose high-calorie food thus causing obesity which increases BMI more than others who have a normal pattern of sleep. In one study, children after their narcolepsy symptoms first showed up gained much weight as 40 pounds within a few months. Because of lower energy caused by hypersomnia body’s rate of metabolism becomes slow and the slow-burning of calories is the leading factor for weight gain.

Obesity or weight gain is also responsible for other disorders which may prove more fatal as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, Parkinson’s disease other cardiac problems. Because of obesity cholesterol levels are higher in vessels when they eventually continue to deposit in vessels they form clots of fats there making the blood vessels narrower for blood’s fluent flow. When these clots increase in size then the vessels burst leading to trauma, CVA or vessel rupture, etc which causes death in most cases.

How do alcohol consumption and caffeine cause hypersomnia?

Anyone who is ever indulged in a drink or used alcohol knows that alcohol disturbs the central nervous system and makes you feel really sleepy, really fast. Alcohol has a sedative effect that makes you yawing and dozy so you fall asleep faster and may suffer from hypersomnia to prolonged consumption of alcohol for relaxation. Caffeine is mostly used as a stimulant which helps you to stay alert during the night but its overconsumption may cause may spike hypersomnia. One study revealed that it delays the timing of your body clock which controls the periodic cycle of sleep.

Effect of Hypersomnia on Sexual Life

Sexuality is a crucial component of health. It is not only physical but also involves emotions, relationships, and wide-ranging life. Sleep is also considered a pillar of health. Emotions are involved in sexual life but patient suffering from hypersomnia mostly feels sleepy for more than 10 hours daily and thus remains tired after such a prolonged sleep.

Effect of Hypersomnia on Sexual Life
Effect of Hypersomnia on Sexual Life

They may experience a very lower energy rate as a result of which sex desire or libido lowers because of being lethargic all the time. These conditions may cause them to face irritability and the maximum point of excitement in sex which is known as orgasm can not be easily reached because tiredness and drowsiness dominate sexual drive which may disturb sexual life and sometimes leads to the destruction of relationships.

Diagnosis of Hypersomnia:

Like all other depression and sleep disorders, hypersomnia is also diagnosed by symptoms and family history with such disorders. Doctors can take a physical exam for circumspection. Hence there are several tests that may be conducted by doctors to diagnose. Let’s dig into the details:

  • Epworth sleepiness scale
  • Sleep diary
  • Polysomnogram
  • Epworth sleepiness scale:

This scale has a total score of 0 to 24. The scale indicates whether you are experiencing immoderately increasing sleepiness that requires medical treatment. hence scoring rate is used to determine the severity of the condition. Let’s see what is sleepiness range from normal to severe:

  • 0 to 1: Normal sleepiness rate in healthy adults
  • 11 to 14: Mild sleepiness
  • 15 to 17: Moderate sleepiness rate
  • 18 to 24: Severe sleepiness rate ( hypersomnia)

Sleep Diary

Diaries are considered essential information-gathering tools. Either these are used to record symptoms during the assessment phase of treatment as therapy. These diaries record  Sleep- awakening times throughout the night to trace patterns of sleep.

Sleep Diary
Sleep Diary


Polysomnogram is also known as a sleep study, it’s a comprehensive test used to indicate sleep disorders. In this procedure, a patient is suggested to stay at a sleep center overnight. A machine detects your heart rate, oxygen level, brain activity, eye movement, and breathing functions. Polysomnography monitors the sleep stages to identify when your sleep patterns are disrupted and why. If you are having full polysomnography then you can come to the center or hospital in the evening and you have to stay here all over the night. You bring you are bedtime things that you use during your normal routine and can sleep in your nightclothes for convenience.

Treatment of Hypersomnia

Medication is used to treat hypersomnia such as methylphenidate ( Ritalin), Fluoxetine ( Prozac), Citalopram( Celexa), Pitolisant ( Wakix), Paroxetine ( Paxil), sodium oxybate ( Xyrem, Xywav), Solriamfetrol( sunosi), etc are used for the treatment of narcolepsy.

Natural Methods to Prevent Hypersomnia

Besides stimulants and other medications, some natural methods are also adopted to alleviate hypersomnia such as:

  • Improved diet and nutrition
  • Lower consumption of drugs such as alcohol and caffeine
  • Regular exercise can balance your sleep cycle, however, some experts suggest that strenuous physical activities should be avoided within three hours of going to bed
  • Proper sleep schedule
  • Possibly adopt a work schedule during day time to avoid sleep and divert attention.
  • Avoid any medication which causes weariness
  • Avoid late-night work.