The Link Between Hypersomnia and Sleep Apnea

The Link Between Hypersomnia and Sleep Apnea

A serious sleep condition characterized by excessive sleepiness during the day is called hypersomnia, also known as EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness), even after long stretches of sleep. People with hypersomnia find getting up extremely difficult and they never feel refreshed after sleep.

Fortunately, hypersomnia, or EDS, isn’t that common and only affects 4 to 6 percent of the world population, especially men. Another ‘positive’ thing about this sleep condition is that it can be diagnosed and treated. If left untreated, it can cause negative effects both on physical and mental health.

Furthermore, it is important to know that even though some hypersomnia and sleep apnea symptoms may overlap, they are two separate conditions. For that reason, to help you distinguish between sleep apnea and hypersomnia here’s everything you need to know about the link between these two.

What are the Hypersomnia Symptoms?

As we already mentioned, people with undiagnosed and untreated hypersomnia may have poor physical and mental health. In general, adults should have a minimum of 7 to 8 hours a good night’s sleep to feel energized and refreshed. But, people with hypersomnia never get that feeling even after double the hours of sleep.

This usually leads to having trouble thinking clearly, making decisions, and they are constantly lethargic. Another symptom of hypersomnia is excessive daytime sleepiness meaning that these people find it very challenging to stay awake nearly everywhere. Finally, hypersomnia patients also experience social issues, i.e. difficulties in connecting with family and friends.

What Causes Hypersomnia?

In medical terms, there are two different types of hypersomnia. The first is primary hypersomnia which means that the cause is unknown due to a lack of other present medical conditions. The other type is secondary hypersomnia, also referred to as idiopathic hypersomnia, which is caused by a range of other medical conditions.

However, similar to primary hypersomnia, in idiopathic hypersomnia, there also isn’t a clearly defined cause but only a mix of conditions or scenarios that differ from one person to another which may include:

  • Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Medication
  • Medication withdrawal
  • Neurological diseases like Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Sleep deprivation

The Link between Hypersomnia and Sleep Apnea

Namely, many people who have sleep apnea may end up developing hypersomnia. This is the reason why it is believed that sleep apnea is one of the direct causes of hypersomnia. To identify the cause the patient’s physician should ask several questions and based on the answers the further treatment may be determined which may be as simple as a lifestyle change or asking for a sleep test to be performed.

How is Hypersomnia Treated?

In general, based on the possible hypersomnia cause, the physician will determine how will hypersomnia be treated which can be either naturally or medicinally.

Natural Treatment

As we mentioned above, even some lifestyle changes may contribute to alleviating hypersomnia symptoms without the need for pharmacological intervention. Some of these recommendations and changes may include following healthy sleep hygiene or a healthy diet. In general, the physician will advise the patient to follow a strict sleep schedule and try to sleep more hours. Another option is CPAP therapy for those who already have sleep apnea.

Medical Treatment

If none of the above lifestyle changes help the patient, medications may be prescribed to further treat hypersomnia. Amphetamine or other stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for treating this condition. Also, the following may be included: antidepressants, clonidine, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

To conclude, hypersomnia is a serious condition affecting a patient’s quality of life. Luckily, there are numerous possible treatments. Hence, if you have any of the symptoms, don’t hesitate and seek professional help.