For most of us, feeling tired at some point throughout the day is normal. While not a disorder in and of itself, excessive daytime sleepiness can be a sign that your body may not be getting enough sleep, and could be a red flag that you have an underlying sleep disorder or health condition. Either way, excessive sleepiness is not something that should be ignored, thankfully, it can be a rather easy problem to fix.
Excessive sleepiness is a very common phenomenon among just about every individual at some point in time. In a recent 2020 poll, The National Sleep Foundation found that the average American adult reported being sleepy for an average of three days per week. The overall findings from the poll across all demographics concluded that 72% of the population are sleepy at least one day per week.
While sleepiness in and of itself is not a health condition, if you find yourself struggling to stay awake during the day, you may be a part of the nearly 30% of people who reported being tired for an average of five to seven days a week. Excessive sleepiness can be much more harmful than it sounds. In short, we are not at our best when we are tired, and feeling tired for more than half of the week can put a large strain on our productivity and overall well-being.
Feeling tired more frequently than others can also be a warning sign that you may have an underlying health or sleep condition, both of which can have other, more serious consequences on your body.
What is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?
In its most basic definition, excessive sleepiness, different from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is characterized by difficulty staying awake or alert, or an increased need and desire to sleep throughout the day. The sensation of sleepiness in people who experience excessive sleepiness is typically associated with more sedentary activities such as driving or while seated. Everybody feels tired at some point throughout the day, but when you’re feeling tired throughout the day, multiple days a week, it is considered excessive and should be addressed.
Excessive sleepiness is different from fatigue, which can often be confused for one another as the two are associated with a lack of energy and are derived from some sort of sleep condition. The primary difference between the two is the ability to fall asleep. People who suffer from chronic fatigue have difficulty falling asleep, while people who suffer from excessive sleepiness have difficulty staying awake. Someone who suffers from one of these may suffer from the other as well.
What are the Symptoms of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?
Getting the right amount of sleep is important for every individual, especially if you feel you’re experiencing more sleepiness than usual. Sleep plays an important role in our overall health and well-being, helping reduce stress levels and restoring the immune system amongst numerous other benefits.
Because sleep plays such an important role in so many aspects of life, it’s important to understand when you may not be getting enough. Lack of sleep can result in symptoms that can often be difficult to associate with sleep and can present challenges in finding a solution. Symptoms of excessive sleepiness can include the following.
- Difficulty staying awake
- Difficulty staying alert or focused
- Problems with memory, typically short term
- Difficulty retaining information
- Slowed reaction speeds
- Mental fog
- Lapses in attention
- Loss of appetite
What Causes Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?
Excessive sleepiness can occur as a result of numerous health conditions or sleep disorders, and may not be directly linked to sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality. Some of the most common causes of excessive sleepiness include sleep-wake disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, which can significantly disrupt the sleep cycle.
Other conditions that can cause excessive sleepiness can include health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, both of which can prevent someone from obtaining a proper night’s sleep. Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety can also cause you to feel excessive daytime sleepiness.
Other health conditions linked with excessive daytime sleepiness can include:
When to See a Doctor About Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?
Feeling sleepy in and of itself may not always require a visit to your doctor. However, when you’re feeling sleepy throughout most of your day multiple days a week, there may be more at play than just a rough night’s sleep. When feeling tired gets in the way of your day-to-day tasks, it can not only present challenges for yourself but those around you as well.
Treatments for daytime sleepiness will almost always depend on the cause. A doctor may find that you have an underlying condition causing you to feel tired and will treat the condition accordingly.
As with any chronic condition or illness, it’s important to listen to your body and communicate clearly with your doctor. For more information on sleep and sleep quality, visit our website and read more about possible causes of excessive sleepiness.
Why Am I Always Tired? Video Explanation
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