Excessive Day Time Sleepiness
Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is characterized by persistent sleepiness during the day following a full night of sleep (7-9 hours). People who experience EDS 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. EDS disrupts a persons normal daytime functioning and ability to do normal activities such as work, looking after children or managing a household. Most importantly EDS is a serious risk for falling asleep during safety sensitive activities such as driving and operating dangerous equipment. The number one cause of EDS is simply not getting enough sleep at night, Sleep Deprivation. However, people who experience EDS following a normal night of sleep may have a sleep disorder.
EDS 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 EDS, 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 Polysomnography) and daytime sleep study (Multiple Sleep Latency Test). If you think you suffer from EDS it is important to refrain from safety sensitive activities and to get an evaluation at an accredited Sleep Centre by a Sleep Specialist.