Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) is a condition where a person falls asleep during the daytime, sometimes during a meal or even in the middle of a conversation. EDS is different from the feeling of excessive tiredness. An individual may diagnose with hypersomnia if they fall asleep:
- Despite taking regular naps during the day
- While eating or talking
- Despite having long hours of sleep at night
- Causes of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Not sleeping enough remains the common cause of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. Besides, it also makes sense when you work at night and sleep during the day. However, dozing off in the middle of a conversation or struggling to stay awake despite sleeping the whole night may indicate an underlying condition. Some common problems behind EDS are depression, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy. Some other causes behind EDS include obesity, lack of physical activity, and consumption of certain medications, recreational drugs, alcohol or cigarette.
Over the years, we have seen major advancements in medicine, therapies and natural remedies to cure EDS. However, unless you are diagnosed with a condition behind your EDS, you should abstain from taking some medication. It’s always better to seek out professional help and diagnose the underlying cause of your EDS.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Treatment
We have mentioned the common causes of EDS and the best treatment you can get in 2022.
It is a neurological disorder where one loses the ability to regulate their sleep cycles. You will probably sleep the same hours per day as others but in small intervals. As a result, your sleep quality will decrease, causing intense fatigue and weakness. Some people may experience a sudden body collapse (cataplexy) lasting from seconds to minutes. Such sudden episodes are often triggered by emotions or fatigue.
Treatment for Narcolepsy
Diet: If you have severe narcolepsy, your body may be producing a lower amount of Hyprocretin- a hormone that keeps you alert. Hypocretin can be found in many foods such as green leafy vegetables, sourdough bread, fermented vegetables, salmon and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Activity: Try to wake up every morning and enjoy the sun’s rays. The sunrays stimulate Vitamin D production in your body, which will help you stay active and fresh. Try to incorporate regular exercise and physical activity 3 hours before your bedtime as it helps you rest better at night.
Medication: Drugs like Modafinil 200mg and Armodafinil are some common drugs your doctor may prescribe you for EDS.
If you are suffering from narcolepsy with cataplexy, hallucinations, or sleep paralysis, your doctor may suggest antidepressants such as Tricyclics or serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Doctors describe hypersomnia as excessive tiredness or sleepiness resulting from depression, epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. However, the reason behind excessive sleepiness remains unknown. This condition is known as Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH).
Treatments for Hypersomnia
Hypersomnia can be treated by medications and supplements like calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium oxybates. These medications work their way through dopamine, promoting alertness and wakefulness.
These medicines are commonly known as “wake-promoting” medicines for treating IH, narcolepsy and other similar disorders.
Generally, they fall under three categories:
Stimulants: They include derivatives of Amphetamine such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), methamphetamine (Desoxyn) and methylphenidate (Ritalin). While they are very effective, doctors usually don’t prescribe them unless they run out of other options. People taking stimulants may experience more side effects, including severe dependence and heart problems.
Non-stimulants: Caffeine pills are often marketed as wake-promoting drugs. Even though these pills may boost energy, they often come with side effects such as headaches, shakiness and increased heart rate.
Caffeine can impact your circadian rhythm when taken excessively, making sleep more difficult at night. Besides, you will often have a caffeine crash feeling even more tired and irritated once the caffeine wears off from your body.
Medications such as Armodafinil and Modafinil are considered safer than stimulants showing no sign of dependency or severe side effects among users. You can also try other medications such as pitolisant and solriamfetol.
Sodium Oxybate is also a medication that promotes deep sleep at night, cutting down your daytime sleepiness.
On top of that, your doctor may prescribe you additional medications such as sedatives and antidepressants if you are diagnosed with ADHD or depression. Besides, you should also improve your sleep habits, diet and lifestyle.
Sleep Apnea is caused by the collapse of the upper airway while you are sleeping. It can occur several times at night and lasts up to 10 seconds. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea, your airway gets blocked when you sleep, pushing you to wake up. Meanwhile, in Central Sleep Apnea, your brain stops sending signals to your muscles that control breathing. During sleep apnea, you may show symptoms of snoring or may wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air.
Due to frequent interruptions in your nighttime sleep, you may feel extremely sleepy and tired during the daytime. Sleep apnea is associated with various medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, elevated hemoglobin and fatigue.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Some common treatments for sleep apnea include:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): A nasal device attached to a machine keeps your airway open.
Oral Appliance Therapy: Your doctor may ask you to use devices to move your tongue, lower jaw or soft palate forward to open up the airway.
People with obesity often show signs of excessive sleepiness and sleep apnea, which usually goes away by losing weight. If none of the above works, then surgery is your last resort.
Depression can be classified as typical depression and atypical depression. Unlike typical depression, people with atypical depression can experience hypersomnia triggered by an event. People with atypical depression often show sign of increased appetite, weight gain, and high sensitivity towards social interactions. They feel a constant weight on their limbs; draining away their energy and making them fall asleep.
Treatment for Atypical Depression
Doctors will likely recommend psychotherapy and medications to treat atypical depression based on the severity of the symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This involves targeting the thoughts that trigger the depression and behaviour of a person. It should be done under the supervision of a licensed mental healthcare professional, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Medications: Doctors may prescribe antidepressants, mood-stabilizers or lithium for treating depression caused by bipolar disorder.
Diet: Patients may have to limit their caffeine intake and alcohol.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) refers to a condition where a person feels unpleasant sensations in their legs, creating an urge to move them continuously. It can also be characterized by jerky leg movements that occur every 20-30 seconds, predominantly at night. RLS often gets worse when you are sleeping or resting, which interrupts your sleep pattern and causes excessive sleepiness during the daytime. It is often confused with insomnia, but both are completely different and have separate treatments.
Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Supplements: Taking iron, Vitamin B12, or folate supplements may help with RLS.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes: Try avoiding nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. Besides eating healthy and exercising regularly, you should also try relaxation techniques such as massage and hot baths.
If none of the steps above works, then you can try some medications to treat your Restless Legs Syndrome:
Anti-seizure drugs: Drugs such as Valproate, Carbamazepine and Gabapentin can help. A new drug in the market named Gabapentin enacarbil that you can inquire more about with your doctor.
Anti-Parkinson Drugs: Drugs used for treating Parkinson’s such as carbidopa, levodopa, pergolide, pramipexole and ropinirole can also help treat excessive daytime sleepiness caused by restless legs syndrome.
In extreme RLS cases, your doctor may prescribe benzodiazepines (clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam or temazepam) and opiates (codeine, oxycodone, and methadone).
Insomnia is characterized by a condition where people find it extremely difficult to fall or stay asleep. Its effect can be temporary or long-lasting and can worsen due to stress, irregular sleeping habits, ADHD, mental illness, dementia, apnea, or restless legs syndrome. Consumption of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and certain medications can further aggravate the condition.
Treatments for Insomnia
Insomnia can be controlled or treated through:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): It involves a process where psychologists train you to replace your sleep-related worries with healthier beliefs.
Modifying Sleep Habits: You may schedule your sleep timing, ensuring to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Eliminate all kinds of distractions such as light, noise, and screen time. You should also limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.
Medication: There are medicines that your doctor may prescribe you such as Benziodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, melatonin agonists, or orexin receptor agonists.
If your excessive daytime sleepiness is caused by improper night sleep, you can go for natural options like chamomile, kava or lavender tea. Meanwhile, if you need a wake-promoting drug that gives you the boost without causing any dependence or bad side effects, then you may ask for Modalert and Waklert.
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