What Is Hypersomnia and How to Recognize It?
Not everything that seems to be insomnia is insomnia. There are also diseases associated with sleep: however, all of them, with the exception of insomnia, aren’t common. One of these diseases is hypersomnia. So it can be one of the reasons why you chat with friends or try to translate the “रूले कैसीनो” expression at 2 am. Hypersomnia is often confused with chronic fatigue or daytime sleepiness.
How Hypersomnia Differs From Normal Daytime Sleepiness
Hypersomnia, or more simply, excessive daytime sleepiness, is a whole group of very rare diseases. They are diagnosed on the basis of clinical data and polysomnography.
Daytime sleepiness itself is quite widespread. But usually it’s just a symptom that occurs due to insufficient duration of sleep, poor quality of sleep or other diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease), as well as taking medications. The most prominent example is antihistamine anti-allergy drugs such as suprastine.
When we talk about poor quality, sleep should be understood that it isn’t always about insomnia. A person may not know that he/she is sleeping poorly, while his/her sleep is disturbed by various disorders – sleep apnea, involuntary movements.
Hypersomnia Is Important to Distinguish From Depression and Apathy
Only a sleep specialist, a sleep doctor, can do this. It’s such specialists who study sleep and help to overcome its disorders. And somnologists do polysomnography, on the basis of which they find out the causes of sleep disorders.
What Types of Hypersomnia Are There?
Hypersomnias are a group of diseases. Their types are described in detail not only in scientific sources but also in the press and even in fiction.
In simple words: disruption of the transition mechanisms between dreaming and waking. As a result, the person develops pronounced daytime sleepiness, which he or she is unable to resist. Moreover, people with this diagnosis often wake up at night and suffer from cataplexy.
This is a condition in which there is a sharp decrease in muscle tone in response to stormy emotions: the person falls down or his eyelids droop, his head sinks on his chest and his hands droop. At the same time, he is fully conscious.
There are other symptoms of narcolepsy. First, waking dreams: vivid pictures and scenes when falling asleep, waking up, and sometimes just in the middle of the day. Second, sleep paralysis, when a person cannot move when falling asleep or immediately after waking up. However, sleep paralysis can also be an independent condition that doesn’t indicate narcolepsy.
This disorder is much rarer than narcolepsy: only a couple of cases per million people. And it most often affects adolescent boys and young men.
In other words, the disease is called transient hibernation syndrome. It manifests itself in the fact that once every few weeks, a person falls into a period of long sleep – it lasts up to 20 hours a day. During this time, the person cannot work, study, socialize with friends, take care of children, or take care of themselves.
Hibernating patients are difficult to wake up; they usually only wake up to eat and go to the toilet. When waking up, a person with Kleine-Levin syndrome behaves aggressively, may exhibit sexual behavior, and experiences extreme hunger. The feeling of satiety doesn’t occur during this period, so people with Sleeping Beauty Syndrome may empty the refrigerator, which is fraught with the development of obesity.
Other Hypersomnias Are More Heterogeneous
They usually manifest only as daytime sleepiness. And some patients sleep briefly at night, without limiting the length of their sleep on their own; while others sleep very long at night, but still experience daytime sleepiness.
What to Do if You Suspect You Have Hypersomnia
You cannot always independently distinguish between daytime sleepiness and hypersomnia. However, first, it’s worth analyzing your night sleep: do you sleep enough and how good is your sleep?
If you are still sure that you sleep enough at night, but sleepiness is still overpowering in the daytime – you should see a doctor-somnologist.
This specialist will be able to diagnose such a rare diagnosis as hypersomnia and prescribe the appropriate treatment.