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NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

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Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is characterized by recurrent episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep. Different from feeling tired due to lack of or interrupted sleep at night, persons with hypersomnia are compelled to nap repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times such as at work, during a meal, or in conversation. These daytime naps usually provide no relief from symptoms. Patients often have difficulty waking from a long sleep, and may feel disoriented. Other symptoms may include anxiety, increased irritation, decreased energy, restlessness, slow thinking, slow speech, loss of appetite, hallucinations, and memory difficulty. Some patients lose the ability to function in family, social, occupational, or other settings. Hypersomnia may be caused by another sleep disorder (such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea), dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, or drug or alcohol abuse. In some cases it results from a physical problem, such as a tumor, head trauma, or injury to the central nervous system. Certain medications, or medicine withdrawal, may also cause hypersomnia. Medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, depression, encephalitis, epilepsy, or obesity may contribute to the disorder. Some people appear to have a genetic predisposition to hypersomnia; in others, there is no known cause. Typically, hypersomnia is first recognized in adolescence or young adulthood.

Treatment

Treatment is symptomatic in nature. Stimulants, such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, and modafinil, may be prescribed. Other drugs used to treat hypersomnia include clonidine, levodopa, bromocriptine, antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Changes in behavior (for example avoiding night work and social activities that delay bed time) and diet may offer some relief. Patients should avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Prognosis

The prognosis for persons with hypersomnia depends on the cause of the disorder. While the disorder itself is not life threatening, it can have serious consequences, such as automobile accidents caused by falling asleep while driving. The attacks usually continue indefinitely.

Research

The NINDS supports and conducts research on sleep disorders such as hypersomnia. The goal of this research is to increase scientific understanding of the condition, find improved methods of diagnosing and treating it, and discover ways to prevent it.

View a list of studies currently seeking patients.

View more studies on this condition.

Read additional information from Medline Plus.

Organizations

National Sleep Foundation

National nonprofit organization that works to improve public health and safety by promoting public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. Supports sleep-related education, research, and advocacy; produces and distributes educational materials to the public and healthcare professionals; and offers postdoctoral fellowships and grants for sleep researchers.

1010 N. Glebe Road
Suite 310
Arlington, VA 22201
Tel: 703-243-1697
Fax: 202-347-3472

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Health Information Center

P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
Tel: 301-592-8573/240-629-3255 (TTY) Recorded Info: 800-575-WELL (-9355)

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