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Kingwood, Texas 77339

Hypersomnias-Excessive Sleepiness


Hypersomnia is a disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness, which is different from feeling tired due to lack of or interrupted sleep at night.  People with Hypersomnia are tired no matter how much they’ve slept. They 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.

Typically, hypersomnia is first recognized in adolescence or young adulthood.  Hypersomnia can be caused by brain damage and disorders such as clinical depression, Celiac Disease, uremia and fibromyalgia.   Hypersomnia can also be a symptom of other sleep disorders such asnarcolepsy, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and periodic leg movement disorder.  It may also occur as an adverse effect of alcohol abuse, or taking or withdrawal from certain medications.

Some of the Hypersomnia Disorders are:

Narcolepsy - Narcolepsy is a Hypersomnia characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep attacks, cataplexy (a sudden weakening of the muscles), and hypnogagic  hallucinations (vivid, sometimes disturbing dreamlike experiences that occur while dozing, falling asleep and/or upon awakening).  It affects approximately 1 in 2000 people.  It is a sleep disorder featuring attacks of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or dream sleep into wakefulness, as well as attacks of wakefulness into sleep.

Effects of Narcolepsy:

• Chronic daytime tiredness                      • Nocturia (Increased urination)

• Chronic memory problems                     • Poor work or school performance

• Hypertension (high blood pressure)   • Gastroesophageal (acid) reflux

Diagnosis – A two-part sleep study is needed to identify narcolepsy.   An overnight Polysomnogram (PSG) sleep study followed by a daytime sleep study called Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT).  The PSG records muscular activity, sleep stages, plus additional bodily functions.  The MSLT records sleep-related activity during at least four scheduled naps the following day.  Collectively, this two part study identifies the misplaced fragments of REM sleep associated with narcolepsy.

Treatment – Narcolepsy is generally treated with a combination of medication and lifestyle modifications.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) – PLMD is a sleep disorder where you move limbs involuntarily during sleep, and has symptoms or problems related to the movement.  PLMD should not be confused with restless leg syndrome (RLS).  RLS occurs while awake as well as when asleep, and when awake, there is a voluntary response to an uncomfortable feeling in the legs.  PLMD on the other hand is involuntary, and you often are unaware of these movements altogether.
Symptoms – Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), falling asleep during the day, trouble failing asleep at night, and difficulty staying asleep throughout the night.  Patients also display tinvoluntary limb movements that occur at periodic intervals anywhere form 20-40 seconds apart and they often only last the first half of the night during non-REM sleep stages.  Movements do not occur during REM because of muscle atonia.

 Diagnosis - PLMD is usually observed by a sleep partner before the patient is aware of the movements.  PLMD is diagnosed with an overnight polysomnogram (PSG) sleep study.
Treatment - Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome may be treated with a combination of medication and behavioral modifications.  Behavioral Modifications can consist of regular exercise such as walking, riding an exercise bicycle, or swimming may reduce or eliminate PLMS, particularly if Restless Legs Syndrome is part of the problem.  Massaging the legs and soaking in a hot tub prior to bedtime may also help.


Insufficient Sleep Syndrome:  Continual failure to get enough sleep, which leads to chronic, excessive daytime sleepiness.


Additional Hypersomnias:  Any of several less common hypersomnias, including:  Idiopathic Hypersomnia, Klein-Levin Syndrome, and Hypersomnia Due to a Medical Condition.

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