What Causes Excessive Sleepiness?
The most common causes of excessive sleepiness are sleep deprivation and disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Uncontrollable yawning, heavy eyelids and the prevailing impulse to doze off during the day are signs of excessive sleepiness. Struggling to stay awake can drag down performance in daily activities, put a strain on social and personal relationships, and create serious risks especially when driving.
Signs and Symptoms of Excessive Sleepiness
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased energy
- Constant, recurrent episodes of extreme sleepiness during the day
- Difficulty waking up in the morning or after daytime naps, sometimes appearing confused or combative
- Slow thinking, slow speech, inability to focus or concentrate, and memory problems
- Sleeping longer than 10 or more hours yet still being very sleepy during the day and having difficulty remaining awake during the day
Causes of Excessive Sleepiness
Excessive sleepiness is not a condition in itself instead, it is a symptom caused by an underlying problem.
Sleepiness Caused by Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation may be short-term or chronic and can itself be caused by numerous sleep disorders and other medical conditions:
Failure to Prioritize Sleep: Choosing to stay up late to watch a series or wake up early to go to the gym are examples of how sleep can get bumped down the list of priorities. This can cause drowsiness the next day, and the problem can accumulate over time.
Insomnia: This condition can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep for as long as you want.
Sleep Apnea: It creates fragmented sleep that typically causes daytime drowsiness and may affect up to 20% of adults.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): This condition causes a strong sensation of needing to move one’s extremities and is a known risk for disrupting total sleep time and sleep quality.
Poor Sleep Quality: Sleep insufficiency isn’t just about a low quantity of sleep it’s also about sleep quality.
Pain: Virtually any ailment that induces pain can complicate sleep and make a person prone to drowsiness during the day.
Frequent Nighttime Urination: This condition involves needing to get up from bed during the night to pee and is estimated to affect up to one out of three older adults and one out of five younger people.
Sleepiness Caused by Other Medical and Brain Conditions
Treatment for Excessive Sleepiness
Treatment depends on what is causing your sleepiness. There are both lifestyle changes and medication approaches:
- Maintain good sleep habits such as establishing a regular sleeping schedule, having an environment that allows for sleep, and limiting caffeine and exercise before bedtime.
- Taking Armodafinil promotes wakefulness. This drug is in a class of medications called wakefulness-promoting agents. It works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the area of the brain that controls sleep and wakefulness.