Drowsiness, hypersomnia: What's it, causes, symptoms, diagnostics, treatment, prevention

Drowsiness; Sleepinessduring the day; Hypersomnia; Somnolence

Drowsiness is a state of extreme fatigue, feeling tired, need for sleep and, usually, desire to take a nap. It's a symptom of fatigue, which is a subjective feeling of lack of energy or inability to be active.

People, in a state of drowsiness, can fall asleep, when they don't want it, or from time to time, which can lead to security issues.

Causes of sleepiness

There are several possible causes of sleepiness. Some of them are physical, and some mental.

Physical causes include insufficient sleep, medication, viral gastroenteritis, diabetes, iron deficiency, narcolepsy, thyroid problems and sleep apnea.

Mental or emotional causes of sleepiness include depression, alarm, chronic stress, grief and boredom.

Drowsiness can be caused by the following reasons:

  • Prolonged (chronic) pain
  • Diabetes
  • Having to work overtime or in different shifts (nights, weekend)
  • Prolonged insomnia and other trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • Changes in sodium levels in the blood ( hyponatremia or hypernatremia)
  • Medicines (trankvilizatorы, hypnotics, antihistamines, some painkillers, some psychiatric drugs)
  • Don't sleep long enough
  • Sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy )
  • Too much calcium in the blood ( hypercalcemia )
  • Insufficient activity of the thyroid gland ( gipotireoz )

Sleepiness symptoms

The most obvious symptom of sleepiness is feeling tired and wanting to sleep.. Other symptoms may include difficulty concentrating, heavy eyelids, feeling irritable, impaired judgment, poor concentration, reduced reaction time, slowing of reflexes, snoring, decreased libido and memory problems.

When to contact a healthcare professional

Most cases of drowsiness can be managed without medical attention.. However, it is important to see a doctor, if drowsiness persists and affects daily activities. The doctor can determine the cause and prescribe an effective treatment.

Questions, that your doctor may ask

Your doctor, probably, ask you some questions, to determine the cause of your sleepiness:

  • How long have you been feeling this way?
  • Do you feel more tired in the morning or afternoon?
  • Does fatigue increase after physical activity??
  • Are there other physical or mental symptoms, associated with drowsiness?
  • Does your sleepiness come and go or is it constant??
  • You snore or find it difficult to sleep?
  • Are you taking any medication, which may cause drowsiness?

Diagnosis of drowsiness

If your doctor suspects a physical cause of sleepiness, such as a viral infection, sleep apnea or thyroid disease, he can perform a physical examination and order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. If a mental or emotional cause of drowsiness is suspected, they, probably, refer you to a mental health specialist for further evaluation.

Tests, which can be fulfilled, include:

  • Blood tests (eg, complete blood count and differential blood count , blood sugar, electrolyte and thyroid hormone levels)
  • CT or MRI of the head
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Sleep research
  • Urine (eg, Analysis of urine )

Sleepiness treatment

Treatment for drowsiness depends on its cause.. In most cases, treatment includes lifestyle changes., eg, increased sleep, stress reduction, avoiding alcohol or drugs and eating a balanced diet.

If the cause of drowsiness is physical, treatment may include medication, such as stimulants, to help with alertness. If the cause is a physical disorder, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, special treatments may be prescribed.

In cases of drowsiness, caused by mental or emotional causes, treatment may include psychotherapy, talking therapy and/or medications, helping to sleep, with anxiety or depression.

home treatment for sleepiness

There are some home remedies, which can relieve drowsiness.

  • Exercise can help increase energy levels and reduce fatigue.
  • Eating a balanced diet and avoiding processed foods can help provide energy, what he needs.
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs can help the body get enough rest..
  • Reduce stress, meditating, doing yoga or doing other types of relaxation.
  • Get enough sleep every night, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

Prevention of drowsiness

The best way to prevent drowsiness is to get enough rest and stick to a regular sleep schedule.. Regular exercise can also help., a balanced diet, stress reduction, avoiding drugs and alcohol and participating in activities, that promote relaxation and concentration. If drowsiness is caused by a physical or mental disorder, it is important to seek treatment for these underlying conditions.

Used sources and literature

Avidan AY. Sleep and its disorders. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 101.

Hirshkowitz M, Sharafkhaneh A. Evaluating sleepiness. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 169.

Mansukhani MP, Check BP, St.Louis EC, Morgenthaler TI. Sleep disorders. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn’s Current Therapy 2021. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2021:755-770.

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