Everything to Know About Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Everything to Know About Idiopathic Hypersomnia

It is true that we all get tired and sleepy from time to time, but feel refreshed and energetic after a full night of rest. However, those with idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) feel excessive sleepiness all the time, even after getting a good night’s sleep.

Why is this so? Namely, idiopathic hypersomnia is a neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime tiredness and sleepiness. It makes people crave sleep and face difficulties staying alert and focused during the day. They simply never wake up feeling refreshed.

So, if you find it hard to get the rest you need and suspect you might have idiopathic hypersomnia, continue reading below to find out about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of IH.

Idiopathic Hypersomnia Symptoms

When speaking about the symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia, the major and most prominent one is excessive daytime sleepiness. But, there are also other IH symptoms which might include:

  • Sleeping for 9 to 11 hours every day
  • Having trouble waking up in the morning or from daytime naps
  • Experiencing sleep inertia or sleep drunkenness, i.e. feeling groggy and having a hard time functioning
  • Facing difficulties in performing normal daytime activities
  • Feeling tired, i.e. not rested, after sleep or naps
  • Having brain fog
  • Experiencing headaches

Idiopathic Hypersomnia Causes

Although doctors haven’t found the specific causes of idiopathic hypersomnia, studies have found several connections between this neurological condition and other medical issues.

To begin with, some people with idiopathic hypersomnia also have a family medical history of the same condition or with another sleep disorder such as narcolepsy.

Furthermore, researchers have studied the possibility that neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin which control mood and happiness, might have a role.

Moreover, people with idiopathic hypersomnia also have low levels of histamine, which is a brain chemical released by the immune system to fight harmful substances.

And, according to doctors, idiopathic hypersomnia might also be caused by:

  • An infection
  • Brain damage
  • Anxiety or depression
  • An irregular sleep schedule
  • Sleep medicine
  • Stay awake tablets

Idiopathic Hypersomnia Diagnosis

To be diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia, a doctor will do a physical exam and check your and your family’s medical history. They will also ask you about your symptoms and any medications you’re taking.

Similarly, they will ask you about how your sleepiness affects your everyday life and ask you to rate it with a sleepiness scale. Keeping a sleep diary is yet another suggestion to help you and your doctor determine the amount of sleep you get.

But, that’s not all! To get a diagnosis, your doctor may also ask you to do some tests which might include:

  • Polysomnogram – to monitor brain activity, breathing, heart rate, eye and leg movements, and oxygen levels during sleep.
  • Multiple sleep latency test – to record how quickly you fall asleep for a nap the day after a polysomnogram.

Idiopathic Hypersomnia Treatment

Last but not least, the main goal of IH treatment is to ease symptoms so that they don’t affect your everyday life. Taking calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium oxybates is the go-to treatment for idiopathic hypersomnia as it is believed to have a connection with dopamine and its brain pathways involved in wakefulness.

Other medications used to treat idiopathic hypersomnia may include stimulants and non-stimulant wake-promoting medications. And, apart from medications, your doctor may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy and following a regular sleep schedule.