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Idiopathic hypersomnia is a chronic sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. The excessive sleep during the day makes it difficult to stay awake, even after a sufficient night’s sleep. The frequency and duration of the nap affect the day-to-day routine activities such as:


  • Attending a class/lecture
  • Workplace (office/industry)
  • Attending a meeting
  • Driving/traveling

The naps in between daily routine activities are not refreshing and create a lethargic feeling throughout the day, thus affecting the quality and the performance of the individual at work or daily activities.


The symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia gradually develop during teenage and are majority observed in adults. The symptoms of Idiopathic hypersomnia include:


  • Increased frequency of daytime naps
  • Prolonged duration of daytime naps
  • Prolonged night sleep exceeding more than 14-16 hours
  • Difficulty in waking up from sleep
  • Disorientation
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Increased fatigue
  • Decreased thinking ability
  • Slurry speech
  • Loss of appetite


The term ‘idiopathic’ means ‘unknown cause’. Thus, the exact cause of excessive daytime sleepiness is not determined. However, the symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia mimics the symptoms of narcolepsy, but differ in their physiological functions.

Idiopathic hypersomnia may also occur due to depression, head injury or trauma, decreased thyroid function and side effects of consumption of certain drugs or alcohol.

Risk factors

The risk factors of Idiopathic hypersomnia include:


  • Family history of the condition
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Severe depression
  • Bipolar disease
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep apnea
  • Excessive weight
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Liver and kidney impairment


Idiopathic hypersomnia can be diagnosed by the following procedures:


  • Multiple sleep latency tests: The test is performed by placing sensors over the head in a sleep centre to determine the excessive daytime sleepiness. It is measured by calculating the time taken to fall asleep in a silent environment. The duration of the test may last all day long by scheduling naps with two hours interval time. The sensors placed helps to determine the intensity and the stage of sleep.


  • Sleep study: The test also called as polysomnography is performed in the sleep centre where the brain’s activity is recorded such as eye and body movements, heart rate, breathing and brain impulses. This test is helpful in determining other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.


  • Sleep diary: A diary or a record is maintained to report the number of hours of sleep and the time of awakening. These records help the doctor to study the sleep pattern of the individual and helps in providing appropriate treatment.


  • Laboratory parameters: Certain laboratory parameters such as complete blood cell count (CBC) and thyroid function test are performed to determine any underlying disorders affecting sleep.


The treatment for idiopathic hypersomnia may include sedatives that promote effective nighttime sleep. The doctor may also prescribe antipsychotic and antidepressant medicines along with sedatives for effective treatment of Idiopathic hypersomnia.

The treatment may also include stimulants that keep the brain active and prevents excessive daytime sleep.


Idiopathic hypersomnia can be effectively managed by following lifestyle modifications such as:


  • Avoid the use of alcohol and certain medicines that may worsen the condition
  • Avoid traveling or working late at night as it affects the quality of nighttime sleep
  • Restrict the use of heavy machinery or driving vehicles during the day to prevent the risk of falling asleep
  • Avoid the use of gadgets such as smartphones, laptops, computer or television at least half-an-hour before bedtime.
  • Practice meditation and yoga along with the conventional methods to help improve the quality of nighttime sleep and reduce daytime sleep and stress.

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