Hypersomnia is categorized by feeling extremely sleepy during the day or sleeping longer than normal at night. Daytime naps don’t alleviate the tiredness. Unfortunately, those suffering from hypersomnia tend to fall asleep at any time—such as when at work or driving a car.
Hypersomnia is not uncommon—the National Sleep Foundation suggests that up to 40% of people suffer from it at one point or another. It can be brought on by depression, sleep deprivation, and sleep disorders, obesity, alcoholism, head injuries, neurological problems/diseases, kidney issues, and drugs/medication.
Primary hypersomnia is when there are no other symptoms present, while secondary hypersomnia is caused by an underlying cause, such as another illness or depression.
How Do You Feel Better if You Suffer from Hypersomnia?
The treatments for and management of hypersomnia vary depending on the cause. So let’s have a look at the causes and what you can do to feel better.
Hypersomnia due to Poor Sleep Habits
If you have insomnia, or sleep too little or sleep restlessly due to other reason and therefore feel tired during the day, there are several things you can do to improve your sleep routine:
- exercise to ensure you are physically and not just mentally tired when going to bed
- go to bed at the same time every night, so as not to disrupt your Circadian rhythm
- turn down the lights, or switch to candlelight, an hour or so before bedtime
- eat foods containing melatonin
- have a hot bath, or drink a hot cup of herbal tea an hour and a half before bedtime
- try herbal teas containing a mixture of valerian, chamomile, lavender, mint, lemon balm, passionflower, hemp, magnolia bark, ashwagandha, and linden (always consult your doctor first)
- practice meditation and do breathing exercises to destress and calm your mind as part of your evening routine, or during the day to deal with stress as it arises
- avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening and in excessive amounts during the day
If you really struggle with creating a healthy sleep routine, there are coaches who focus specifically on this. A quick search on Google will help you find a coach who meets your needs.
Hypersomnia due to Sleep Apnea or Snoring
Snoring can be caused by anatomy, which you cannot improve unless with surgery, but it’s more likely to be caused by sinus problems, or the same thing that causes sleep apnea—the muscles in and around your throat relaxing too much. To relieve symptoms of sleep apnea and therefore the accompanying hypersomnia, the following is recommended:
- breathing exercises
- physical exercise
- eating well
- losing weight if obese
- sleeping on your side, or if that’s not possible, on your abdomen
- avoiding alcohol at night as it relaxes the muscles further
- medical treatment if necessary, such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and oxygen, and as the last alternative—surgery
Hypersomnia due to Depression or “Sluggishness”
There are different reasons we get depressed, ranging from trauma or grief to leading a life that no longer inspires us, or coming out of a period of stress, after which our body shuts down. Some people also seem genetically predisposed to depression, anxiety, and other mental issues that can lower our mood.
One of the symptoms of depression is wanting to sleep—both sleeping too long during the night and falling asleep during the day.
However, some people who experience feeling “sluggish” or a little bit down can also become excessively tired. This can be caused by poor lifestyle choices, such as a sedentary lifestyle and a lack of nutrients. It can also be because of SAD—seasonal affective disorder—which is caused by getting too little light in winter.
If you are going through a period of feeling sluggish or depressed, there are some things you can try to increase your energy and boost your mood:
Hypersomnia Caused by Medication
Certain medicines can cause drowsiness, such as allergy medication, for example. If you are taking any medication and suspect that might be the cause of your hypersomnia, see your doctor to discuss alternative treatment.
Hypersomnia due to an Underlying Illness
If you suffer from hypersomnia, it’s important you see a doctor to rule out any underlying illness causing your sleepiness.
If there is an underlying illness, or you suffer from vitamin or mineral deficiencies, you need to treat those. That, in turn, will help alleviate the hypersomnia.
Treating Hypersomnia with Medication
As most people suffer from secondary hypersomnia, it is treated by addressing the underlying causes which may, or may not, need to be treated with medication.
Taking medication (stimulants) for hypersomnia itself (whether it’s due to secondary or primary hypersomnia), however, is often only suitable for extreme cases due to the adverse effects of the medications. Lifestyle changes is the first course of action.
Quick Tips for Alertness
If you just want to feel more alert instantly, here are a few tips:
- have a cold bath or shower
- go for a run or do some other cardio—many people experience “runners high” afterwards as endorphins are released
- have a cup of coffee, or tea—matcha tea has become known for creating increased alertness without the dip that usually allows a cup of coffee, but coffee can improve some people’s mood
- go for a brisk walk outdoors
In the long run, a healthy diet, exercise, spending time outdoors, getting enough light during the day, and getting proper sleep at the same time every night, are the best ways of improving alertness. You can also try herbal supplements to improve alertness and energy.