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Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Postby Butterfly Faerie » Sat Aug 26, 2006 6:48 pm

Hypersomnia is characterized by recurrent episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep. Persons with hypersomnia are compelled to nap repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times such as at work, during a meal or in conversation. These daytime naps usually provide no relief from symptoms. Patients often have difficulty waking from a long sleep, and may feel disoriented. Other symptoms may include anxiety, increased irritation, decreased energy, restlessness, slow thinking, slow speech, loss of appetite, hallucinations and memory difficulty. Some patients lose the ability to function in family, social, occupational or other settings.

Hypersomnia may be caused by drug or alcohol abuse, other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea, or dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. In some cases it results from a physical problem, such as a tumor, head trauma, or injury to the central nervous system. Certain medications, or medicine withdrawal, may also cause hypersomnia. Medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, depression, encephalitis, epilepsy or obesity may contribute to the disorder. Some people appear to have a genetic predisposition to hypersomnia; in others, there is no known cause. Hypersomnia typically affects adolescents and young adults.

multiple sclerosis
chronic fatigue syndrome
an injury to the central nervous system resulting from head trauma
a side effect of taking a medication or stopping a medication
genetics: there may be a genetic predisposition to hypersomnia
Diagnostic Features

Excessive sleepiness for at least a month, including prolonged sleep episodes or daytime sleep episodes almost daily
Excessive sleepiness severe enough to cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of life
Excessive sleepiness does not occur exclusively during the course of another sleep disorder or mental disorder
Excessive sleepiness is not due to the physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition

Self-imposed short sleep time
Medications (tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antihistamines)
Sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea syndrome and narcolepsy)
Other medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism, hypercalcemia, and hypo/hypernatremia)

Stimulants, such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, and modafinil, may be prescribed. Other drugs used to treat hypersomnia include clonidine, levodopa, bromocriptine, antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Changes in behavior -- for example avoiding night work and social activities that delay bed time -- and diet may offer some relief. Patients should avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Tips for a Good Night's Sleep:

Set a schedule:

Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning

Disrupting this schedule may lead to insomnia. Sleeping in on weekends also makes it harder to wake up early on Monday morning because it resets your sleep cycles for a later awakening.


Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day. Daily exercise often helps people sleep, although a workout soon before bedtime may interfere with sleep. For maximum benefit, try to get your exercise about five to six hours before going to bed.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol:

Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, which acts as a stimulant. Sources of caffeine include coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, nonherbal teas, diet drugs and some pain relievers. Smokers tend to sleep very lightly and often wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol robs people of deep and REM sleep and keeps them in the lighter stages of sleep.

Relax before bed:

A warm bath, reading or another relaxing routine can make it easier to fall sleep. You can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual.

Sleep until sunlight:

If possible, wake up with the sun, or use very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body's internal biological clock reset itself each day. Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep.

Don't lie in bed awake:

If you can't get to sleep, don't just lie in bed. Do something else, like reading, watching television or listening to music, until you feel tired. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia.

Control your room temperature:

Maintain a comfortable bedroom temperature. Extreme temperatures may disrupt or prevent sleep.

See a doctor if your sleeping problem continues:

If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, then you may have a sleep disorder and should see a physician. Your primary care physician may be able to help you; if not, you can probably find a sleep specialist at a major hospital near you. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.

Sleep research is expanding and attracting more and more attention from scientists. Researchers now know that sleep greatly influences our waking hours, and they realize that we must understand sleep to fully understand the brain. Innovative techniques, such as brain imaging, can now help researchers understand how different brain regions function during sleep and how various activities and disorders affect sleep. Understanding the factors that affect sleep may lead to revolutionary new therapies for sleep disorders and to ways of overcoming jet lag and the problems associated with shift work.
Butterfly Faerie
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Re: Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Postby chrisplettuce » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:42 pm

May be a daft question but does anyone else suffer hallucinations with this? For the last three weeks I have been and it's getting worrying. I read somewhere that REM sleep normally takes 90 minutes to begin yet I dream almost immediately.
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Re: Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Postby rb699 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:27 pm

You may suffer from narcolepsy which jumps you directly to REM sleep.
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Re: Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Postby rainbow warrior » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:02 pm

I have been struggling to sleep since a manic episode last summer from which I was hospitalised. During hospital i was sleeping. I was on diazipam, sleeping tablets, lithium and haliperidol.After coming out of hospital I was just on haloperidol and lithium. When I stopped taking haliperidol in December I stopped sleeping. I lay all night awake and the doctors won't give me any sleeping tablets and I just cannot sleep well. I think I get ten minute sleeps at a time, a couple a night. Can any body please give me any helpful advice?
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