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What Causes Hypersomnia and What to Do?

Causes, Varieties, and Solutions

Chances are you’ve heard on insomnia, but what about hypersomnia? Hypersomnia, more commonly known as extreme and excess daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep, has many treatments. However, depending on the cause of a specific person’s hypersomnia, treatment will differ. There are two types of hypersomnia, idiopathic and recurrent, and according to the American Sleep Association, 5% of the population is affected by the disorder.

Let’s dive into the difference between the two, and the 4 most effective ways to treat hypersomnia.

Recurrent and Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Recurrent hypersomnia is excessive daytime sleepiness that occurs for one or many days and reoccurs over the course of a year or longer. Idiopathic hypersomnia is also characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness but is much more extreme. This disorder means the person is tired all day, every single day, much like someone who is clinically sleep deprived. However, the person does get enough rest, the body just doesn’tfeelwell rested.

Primary hypersomnia, or idiopathic, originates in the brain and is much rarer than recurrent, or secondary hypersomnia. Primary hypersomnia is usually associated with genetic disorders. This includes:

  • Myotonic dystrophy
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Norrie disease


Hypersomnia has a few known causes, narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and the use of medication. In order to determine which type of hypersomnia a person has, a doctor can conduct several tests. Hypersomnia can originate in the brain or can be the result of another disease or outside influence. These tests could be:

  • Polysomnography
  • Subjective scales (Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Stanford Sleepiness Scale)
  • Sleep latency


What to Do When You Have Hypersomnia?

Treatment for hypersomnia is heavily influenced by the type of hypersomnia, other sleep disorders, and the cause. Most of the time, treatment is decided according to the cause of hypersomnia. There is not one definitive and effective treatment for all hypersomnia cases. Even though there is not a specified treatment for the disorder yet, here are some tips for getting by:

  1. Prescribed medication for the side effects of sleepiness.
  2. Stimulants (only recommended for treating the side effects of hypersomnia, not the cause)
  3. Avoid drinking alcohol, which causes excessive drowsiness.
  4. Exercise when possible to enable more energy and endorphins in the body.

Unfortunately, researchers have not yet found one effective treatment for hypersomnia. Because hypersomnia is a disorder with without medication readily available, treating the side effects of the disorder is the most effective way to feel energetic throughout the day.