Excessive Day Time Sleepiness
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is characterized by persistent sleepiness during the day following a full night of sleep (7-9 hours). People who experience Excessive Daytime Sleepiness will be unable to resist sleep and can fall asleep when they are involved in conversations, eating a meal or during quiet activities such as reading or watching TV. Other people may be able to resist sleep, but feel sleepy during the day and if they have a chance to sleep will fall into a deep sleep. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness disrupts a person's normal daytime functioning and ability to do everyday activities such as work, looking after children or managing a household. Most importantly, Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is a serious risk for falling asleep during safety sensitive activities such as driving and operating dangerous equipment. The number one cause of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is simply not getting enough sleep at night: Sleep Deprivation. However, people who experience Excessive Daytime Sleepiness following a normal night of sleep may have a sleep disorder.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness can be a symptom of a number of factors and disorders. Specialists in sleep medicine are trained to diagnose them. Some are:
- Insufficient quality or quantity of night time sleep;
- Misalignments of the body's circadian pacemaker with the environment (e.g., jet lag, shift work or other circadian rhythm sleep disorders);
- An underlying sleep disorder such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, hypersomnia or restless legs syndrome;
- Disorders such as clinical depression or atypical depression;
- Tumors, head trauma, anemia, kidney failure, hypothyroidism or an injury to the central nervous system;
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse;
- Genetic predisposition.
To diagnose the cause of the Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, sleep specialists who work in accredited Sleep Centres will evaluate the patient with an interview and then do sleep studies. The sleep studies necessary to make a diagnosis are a nighttime sleep study (Nocturnal Polysomnogram) and daytime sleep study (Multiple Sleep Latency Test). If you think you suffer from Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, it is important to refrain from safety sensitive activities and to get an evaluation at an accredited Sleep Centre by a Sleep Specialist.