Hypersomnia is a health condition where a person feels excessive sleepiness during the day, and it may happen even after long periods of sleep. It is also termed excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). This problem may be a primary condition or a secondary condition. Where secondary hypersomnia is a result of another medical problem. People suffering from hypersomnia may have difficulty working during the day, as they are often tired, which can impede their concentration and energy level.

Types of Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia can be categorised as primary or secondary.

Primary hypersomnia develops with no comorbid medical problems and the only symptom is extreme fatigue.

Secondary hypersomnia is typically caused due to other medical problems. These conditions include sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, and chronic fatigue syndrome. These health problems cause poor sleep at night, making one feel extremely tired during the day. However, isn’t the same as narcolepsy, which is a neurological disorder that results in sudden unavoidable sleep attacks during the day. Though people with hypersomnia can stay awake on their own, they feel exhausted.

Also Read: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment


The root cause of primary hypersomnia is an issue in the brain systems that control sleep and waking functions.

Secondary hypersomnia is caused by conditions that cause fatigue or inadequate sleep. For instance, sleep apnea can cause hypersomnia as it can cause trouble breathing at night, thus forcing a person to wake up several times throughout the night.

Other Causes

  • Sleep disorders narcolepsy (daytime sleepiness)
  • Sleep apnea (interruptions of breathing during sleep)
  • Not getting enough sleep at night (sleep deprivation)
  • Being overweight
  • Low thyroid function
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • A head injury or neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease
  • Prescription drugs
  • Genetics
  • Depression

Risk For Hypersomnia

Certain comorbid health conditions including sleep apnea, kidney problem, heart ailment, brain disorder, atypical depression, and low thyroid function can make a person feel very tired and increases the risk of developing hypersomnia.

As per the American Sleep Association, this condition affects men more than women. Additionally, people who smoke or drink regularly are at risk of developing hypersomnia. Medications that cause drowsiness can have side effects very similar to hypersomnia.


Well, the main symptom of hypersomnia is constant fatigue. People with this condition may take naps throughout the day without ever getting rid of drowsiness. Also, they find it hard to wake from long periods of sleep.

Other symptoms of hypersomnia include:

  • Low energy level
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Poor appetite
  • Slow actions
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Restlessness


The healthcare provider will review the symptoms and take a complete medical history of the patient to confirm the diagnosis. Thorough physical examination can check the alertness level of the patient. Some of the diagnostic tests suggested by the doctor including

Sleep Diary: The patient is asked to record sleep and awake times through the night to track sleeping habits.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale: Sleep time is rated to assess the severity of the condition.

Multiple sleep latency tests: The patient is asked to monitor nap patterns during the day. This test helps the healthcare provider to measure the types of sleep one experience.

Polysomnogram: The patient is asked to stay at a sleep centre overnight. Where a machine monitors brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, oxygen levels, and breathing function.

Also Read: Natural Sleep Aid: 5 Astonishing Supplements To Beat Insomnia - Infographic


Generally, treatments for this condition may differ, depending on the root cause of hypersomnia. Several drugs prescribed for narcolepsy may also treat hypersomnia and these stimulants may help you feel more awake and energetic.

Modifying lifestyle behaviours are a vital part of the treatment. Your doctor may suggest getting on a regular sleep pattern. Also refraining from certain activities may improve symptoms, especially around bedtime. People with this condition are asked to avoid drinking alcohol or using drugs. Moreover, the patient is asked to have a high nutrient-dense diet to boost energy levels.