Dr. Nabi Darya Vali (AIIMS)MBBS

December 10, 2018

December 27, 2022


What is hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is a chronic nervous system disorder wherein one may experience prolonged night-time sleep or excessive daytime sleepiness. Unlike those who feel tired due to inadequate or disturbed sleep, a person suffering from hypersomnia feels compelled to take long naps during the day even after a full night’s sleep. Hypersomnia is often associated with other diseases and impacts the everyday life of patients.

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What are its main signs and symptoms?

Most common symptoms:

  • Constant complaint of excessive daytime sleep or sleepiness
  • One feels the need to take repeated naps at inappropriate times such as while working, eating or even in the middle of conversations.
  • Daytime naps do not reduce the symptom of excessive sleepiness, and one may often feel disoriented or groggy after a long nap.

Other symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Increased irritation
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced energy
  • A slow thought process and speech that persist through the day
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty functioning at family or social gatherings and in occupational settings

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What are its main causes?

Like most neurological disorders, the cause of hypersomnia is not well known. However, there is evidence of overproduction of a certain molecule in the body that interacts with a hormone in the brain and promotes sleepiness.

Common causes include:

Other causes include:

  • Tumours
  • Injury of the brain or central nervous system
  • Certain medications or withdrawal of certain drugs may lead to hypersomnia such as antidepressants, anxiety lowering agents, antihistaminics, and more
  • Disorders like multiple sclerosis, depression, encephalitis, epilepsy or obesity may contribute to hypersomnia
  • There is evidence of a genetic predisposition contributing to hypersomnia. In such cases, hypersomnia is usually recognised before adulthood.

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How is it diagnosed and treated?

A thorough medical history in the presence of a family member to assess symptoms and sleep habits will aid in the diagnosis.

  • Medications may have to be stopped in order to rule out medications as the cause of hypersomnia.
  • You will be advised tests to diagnose any underlying medical conditions.

Investigations for hypersomnia include:

  • An overnight sleep test or polysomnography (PSG) test
  • Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT)
  • Maintenance of wakefulness test

Treatment of hypersomnia is based on providing symptomatic relief and treating the underlying cause

  • Medications include antidepressants and wakefulness-promoting agents
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is also found to be helpful in some patients with hypersomnia


  • Avoid factors that disturb the sleeping pattern such as working till late in the night or social activities at night.
  • Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.

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  1. Hypersomnia Foundation. [Internet]. Atlanta, GA. About Idiopathic Hypersomnia.
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Hypersomnia Information Page.
  3. Yves Dauvilliers. et al. Hypersomnia. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2005 Dec; 7(4): 347–356. PMID: 16416710
  4. National Center for Advancing and Translational Sciences. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Idiopathic hypersomnia.
  5. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Idiopathic hypersomnia.

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Dr. Nabi Darya Vali (AIIMS)

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