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What Is Idiopathic Hypersomnia?
Hypersomnia means “excessive sleep.” Patients with idiopathic hypersomnia sleep a reasonable amount at night (at least six hours) but have difficulty waking up and always feel tired and sleepy. In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, people with idiopathic hypersomnia may:
- Sleep enormous amounts every day (10 hours or more)
- Display “sleep drunkenness,” such as extreme sleep inertia, difficulties waking up with alarm clocks and feeling groggy for long period of times.
Causes of hypersomnia
There is little research in the area of idiopathic hypersomnia. Most likely, idiopathic hypersomnia is not a disease but a combination of symptoms with many causes. Excessive sleepiness may be due to:
- A brain abnormality of unknown cause. For example, some people with idiopathic hypersomnia have low levels of the brain chemical histamine.
- Low-grade unknown infections (starting after a flu-like illness) or brain damage.
Some patients with hypersomnia may experience other psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression or psychosis. In additions, symptoms may be complicated by factors including:
- Abnormal and irregular sleep schedule and exposure to light
- Sedative or stimulant medications taken in excess or at the wrong time
- Having other sleep conditions such as sleep apnea or circadian disturbances
Diagnosing idiopathic hypersomnia
Diagnosing hypersomnia is challenging. Much of the diagnosis process involves ruling out other conditions. We will consider a hypersomnia diagnosis if:
- You have had symptoms of hypersomnia for at least three months
- The symptoms are severely affecting your daily functioning
Learn more about diagnosing idiopathic hypersomnia.
Treating idiopathic hypersomnia
Treatment for hypersomnia is highly personalized, tailored to your specific needs and the severity of your condition. Treatment options include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Treating other sleep disorders you may also be experiencing
Learn more about treatment for idiopathic hypersomnia.
Sleep Medicine Center
See a Stanford specialist to learn about your treatment options. Visit our clinic to make an appointment.
Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center450 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
Our sleep medicine specialists have expertise in diagnosing and treating idiopathic hypersomnia, a complex condition that causes excessive sleepiness.
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