Common Causes of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

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About 20% of women and men in the United States battle daytime sleepiness.Daytime sleepiness most commonly affects teenagers, older adults, and shift workers, but anyone’s at risk. 

When you’re too drowsy during the day, you could fall asleep at work or at the wheel, putting your life and others’ lives in danger. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are caused primarily by drowsy driving. Drowsy-driving crashes result in more than 71,000 injuries and 6,400 deaths annually. 

If you don’t feel energized and focused during the day, you owe it to yourself (and others) to get relief. Our experts at Stat Care Pulmonary and Sleep, in St. Petersburg, Florida, conduct a thorough examination and sleep studies to determine why you can’t sleep at night, why you feel sleepy during the day, and how to get you back on schedule.

Following are some of the most common reasons why you might suffer excessive sleepiness during the day. You may also have more than one factor involved in your sleepiness.

Insomnia

Most adults aged 18-60 need at least seven hours of sleep per night to stay healthy, function optimally, and remain alert and focused. Shifts in hormones that occur with age, emotional or physical stress, and disruptions of your normal circadian cycle can all disrupt your ability to relax and fall asleep, leading to less than optimal amounts or quality of sleep. 

While you may associate insomnia with tossing and turning throughout the night, that’s not the only form it takes. You may also have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may awaken too early and not be able to get back to sleep.

We work with you to find out what’s causing your insomnia and to help you build a healthy, repeatable bedtime and waking pattern. Going to bed and rising at the same time is important for everyone, but especially for shift workers who work overnight and whose bodies are working against their normal circadian rhythms.

We may recommend lifestyle changes, such as sleeping in a completely darkened, cool bedroom; using white noise to mask disruptive sounds; and avoiding blue light at night. We also advise against late meals, alcohol, or caffeine. You may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that teaches you to calm your mind at night.

Sleep apnea

Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of a common condition called sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing multiple times during the night for many seconds at a time. Those constant interruptions to your breathing also interrupt your sleep. 

Other signs that you have sleep apnea include awakening with a dry throat or headache. You may also snore so loudly that you wake yourself up, or even wake up gagging and gasping for air.

We may treat sleep apnea with a customized oral appliance that holds your jaw forward so that your oral soft tissues don’t block your airways. We may also recommend a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine that supplies you with oxygen while you sleep. If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight could improve your sleep apnea.

Medications

As part of your work-up, we take a complete medical history, including a list of any medications you’re taking. Many medications have sleepiness or drowsiness as a side effect, including but not limited to:

We may work with your other care providers to alter your subscription or dose to alleviate your sleepiness.

Depression

Depression is classified as a mental health disorder, but it affects your physical health, too. When you are depressed, it’s difficult for you to focus or to feel excited about life. You may be fatigued and even sleepy. If you’re depressed you may sleep too much, or too little, or fall asleep in the middle of the day. 

If you suffer from depression, you could benefit from CBT or other therapy. However, your depression could also be a result of an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or a disrupted circadian cycle. 

In addition to the common causes of excessive sleepiness described above, you may have a rare sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy, which makes you fall asleep without warning in the middle of the day, sometimes in the middle of a conversation. Another rare sleep disorder that could be at the root of your problem is Kleine-Levin syndrome

Feel alert and vibrant again by discovering the causes of your sleepiness and getting customized treatments that help you sleep well and fully. Call our friendly, knowledgeable staff today or use our online form to reach us for a consultation.

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