We all know what it’s like to feel tired sometimes. That’s a perfectly normal part of being human, and generally not a cause for concern. But what if you feel that way every single day? It could be a sign of excessive daytime sleepiness, and you may need to do some detective work to uncover the underlying causes.
What Is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?
Excessive daytime sleepiness is a chronic feeling of tiredness, fatigue and lack of energy during the day—even if it seems like you’ve gotten enough sleep. It’s often accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, frequent dozing, trouble waking up in the morning and irritability.
In most cases, excessive daytime sleepiness is the sign of an underlying sleep disorder, which means that it can be treated once you get to the bottom of it.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Causes
There are three common sleep disorders associated with excessive daytime sleepiness. Understanding more about these sleep disorders can help you connect the dots.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects more than 22 million Americans. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles and tongue collapse into the airways during sleep, blocking airflow. This airway blockage sends a message to the brain that the body needs to breathe, awakening it from sleep to take a loud, gasping breath. Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea can experience these episodes anywhere from five to 30+ times per hour.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include: snoring, waking up abruptly to the sensation of choking or gasping, waking up with a dry throat or mouth, morning headaches, irritability and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move the legs for relief. The severity can range from irritating to painful. Since symptoms of restless leg syndrome are generally more present during times of restfulness, this disorder frequently disrupts sleep.
Common symptoms of restless leg syndrome include: the irresistible urge to move, uncomfortable sensations in the legs, involuntary leg movements during sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Narcolepsy is another neurological disorder that affects sleep. Individuals with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and have episodes during which they fall asleep suddenly and uncontrollably during the day. Narcoleptics also have abnormal sleep patterns, and will enter the REM stage almost immediately instead of experiencing a more gradual sleep cycle.
Common symptoms of narcolepsy include: excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of muscle function, sleep paralysis and hallucinations.
What to Do If You have Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
While there’s no cure for the above sleep disorders, the good news is that with treatment, you can alleviate excessive daytime sleepiness and other symptoms so that your sleep disorder doesn’t control your life.
Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and talk about next steps. Once you receive a diagnosis, you can begin treatment to improve your quality of life.
Check out the Better Rest blog for more on sleep health, and don’t forget to browse our shop for innovative products to help you sleep better.