Having Issues With Sleepiness?

Sleepiness from time to time is completely normal after a long day, but when does it become abnormal? An article by Jon Johnson on Medical New Today discusses how excessive sleepiness can make normal daily activities difficult for people. There are more common causes like not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep, but in some cases, it may be due to a sleep disorder or another underlying health condition. A study done by Nature Communications in 2019 shows that 10-20% of people deal with excessive sleepiness. We will go over each cause and their symptoms. 

There are many signs that people may be experiencing excessive sleepiness, such as:

  • fatigue
  • mental fog
  • inability to focus
  • grogginess
  • difficulty waking up in the morning
  • feeling sluggish throughout the day
  • frequent napping throughout the day
  • falling asleep at inappropriate times like driving
  • lapses in attention
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty remembering events
  • irritation
  • poor performance at work or school

Cause # 1: Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is when a person does not get enough sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says for adults to feel well-rested the following day, they need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night, but 20% of adults fail to get that amount. People who consistently fail to get enough sleep may constantly feel tired. This can be caused by excessive work hours, personal obligations, or an underlying medical condition.

Cause # 2: Insomnia
Insomnia is another condition in which people have difficulty getting sleep. They may constantly feel sleepy but are unable to sleep. Everyone experiences insomnia in different ways, such as:

  • being unable to get sleep
  • constantly waking up throughout the night
  • waking up early in the morning and unable to fall back to sleep

Insomnia can be difficult to diagnose, and according to the article, doctors will only diagnose insomnia if they have ruled out all other possible sleep disorders.

Cause # 3: Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is when a person’s body becomes temporarily starved of oxygen and temporarily stops breathing during sleep. This is the most common cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. Very loud snoring and gasping for air throughout the night are both common signs of sleep apnea. There are also two different types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): when soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse, blocking airflow
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA): when the brain fails to signal the respiratory muscles to breathe.

Cause # 4: Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that can cause a person to fall asleep suddenly at inappropriate times and will experience constant sleepiness throughout the day. Most people with this condition will also experience the following:

  • sleep disturbances
  • sleep paralysis
  • hallucinations

Cause # 5: Depression 
Depression can cause sleep issues, including excessive daytime sleepiness and oversleeping. Other symptoms may include:

  • feelings of sadness
  • feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • feelings of anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty remembering details

Cause # 6: Certain Medications
Daytime sleepiness can also be a side effect of certain medications such as:

  • antihistamines
  • antipsychotics
  • antidepressants
  • anxiety medications
  • high blood pressure medications

If the side effects like sleepiness are too much to handle, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor about these issues before making any changes to your medications. Let us know your thoughts about this topic. 

Check out the original post for more detailed information and treatment common treatment options: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326807.php#causes

Original author: Jon Johnson
Original article medically reviewed by: Debra Rose Wilson Ph.D, MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT

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