What Are the Causes of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness? What You Need To Know Update 07/2024

There are several symptoms of excessive sleepiness, such as uncontrollable yawning, heavy eyelids, and a strong desire to fall asleep during the day. Struggling to stay awake can have a negative impact on academic and professional performance, interpersonal relationships, and even one’s ability to drive safely.

It’s normal to question, “Why am I always sleepy?” if you’re constantly tired.

A lack of sleep or sleep problems like sleep apnea or insomnia are often to blame for excessive daytime drowsiness. It is also possible that medical illnesses and drugs that influence the brain or body can induce excessive daytime sleepiness.

The first step in dealing with excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is to recognize it. Working with a doctor to find the root problem and improve your sleep habits can have a positive impact on your productivity, mood, and general well-being.

What Is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Oversleeping during the day makes it harder to stay awake and focused when you need to. EDS and weariness are often viewed as different conditions, but the two diseases may overlap in some cases.

In light of recent studies, excessive drowsiness appears to be a significant issue. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2020 Sleep in America Poll, more than half of Americans report feeling drowsy between three and seven days a week, on average. 40% of individuals reported that their sleepiness at least occasionally interfered with their regular routines.

Hypersomnia, which refers to disorders of excessive sleep, is a term used by some authors to characterize EDS. A more general definition of hypersomnolence encompasses conditions such excessive nighttime sleepiness that are separate from drowsyness in the daytime or when alertness is essential.

What Are the Causes of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Excessive daytime drowsiness is not a disorder in and of itself; rather, it is a sign of an underlying issue.

Sleepiness Caused by Sleep Deprivation

It is generally accepted that the most prevalent cause of extreme drowsiness is a lack of adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can be short-term or long-term, and it can be brought on by a variety of medical diseases and sleep disorders.

  • Failure to Prioritize Sleep: As a busy person, it’s easy to put sleep on the back burner in favor of binge-watching a series or waking up early to go to the gym. Drowsiness the next day can be a result of this, and it can get worse with time. The term “insufficient sleep syndrome” refers to a persistent lack of sleep as a result of lifestyle decisions like these.
  • Insomnia: It’s difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep for as long as you’d like with this disease, which covers a variety of issues. Excessive slumber is frequently the result of other sleep disorders, such as insomnia, that are discussed in this article.
  • Sleep Apnea: A breathing problem known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes a person to stop breathing for short periods of time during the night. It can affect up to 20% of individuals and induce daytime tiredness as a result of disrupted sleep. Even though it is less prevalent, central sleep apnea (CSA) can also induce sleep disturbances.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): It is well-known that restless legs syndrome, which produces a strong urge to move one’s legs during sleep, can affect both the quantity and the quality of one’s rest.
  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders: Getting a good night’s sleep might be difficult if a person’s sleep schedule is out of sync with their local day/night cycle. Jet lag and shift workers’ sleep issues are two examples.
  • Poor Sleep Quality: Sleep deprivation isn’t simply a matter of quantity; it’s a matter of quality as well. People who have difficulty transitioning between sleep cycles may not get enough deep sleep or REM sleep, which can affect their health. If they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep, they may not feel rested the next day.
  • Pain: Injuries that cause pain, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, or herniated disks, can make it difficult to sleep and make a person more susceptible to falling asleep during the day.
  • Frequent Nighttime Urination: Nocturia is a condition in which people get up in the middle of the night to urinate, and it affects as many as one in three elderly people and one in five adolescents.

Sleepiness Caused by Other Medical and Brain Conditions

Sleep deprivation isn’t the only possible cause of excessive drowsiness. It’s possible to become drowsy and disoriented while taking medication, particularly sedatives. There are several more drugs that might produce sleepiness, including antidepressants, painkillers, and antihistamines sold over the counter. Additionally, medication discontinuation can cause drowsiness.

A common side effect of mental illness is sleepiness. Nearly 80 percent of persons with serious depression are thought to suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. Depression, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are all connected with sleep disorders that may lead to bouts of oversleep.

Excessive daily sleepiness can be caused by numerous brain disorders.

Neurological disorder narcolepsy is a famous example because the brain is unable to control the sleep-wake cycle. One in every 2,000 persons suffers from narcolepsy, which causes them to fall asleep at the most inconvenient times.

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders are associated with sleep problems and daytime sleepiness. Traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussions, and tumors or lesions of the brain can all result in sleep deprivation. Meningitis and encephalitis (brain swelling)-causing infections, for example, can cause EDS.

Daytime sleepiness can be caused by a wide range of neurodevelopmental diseases such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Daytime sleepiness has been reported in up to 31% of children with ASD, and sleep problems may last into adulthood for those who have these neurodevelopmental abnormalities.

A person’s daytime sleepiness can be caused by a variety of medical illnesses other than brain disorders. Drowsiness can be exacerbated by metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism. Excessive drowsiness can be caused by a variety of medical disorders, including anemia, low sodium levels in the blood, and electrolyte deficiencies.

Getting Relief for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)

Most people who suffer from extreme tiredness can find relief. For each individual, the best course of action is determined by the underlying cause or contributing factors.

EDS can be treated in a variety of ways due to the fact that it can be brought on by a variety of factors, including poor sleep patterns and medical and brain disorders. An individual’s appropriate treatment plan can only be determined by a doctor.

Sleep loss can lead to sleepiness, which can be alleviated in many ways. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) equipment for sleep apnea and cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) for insomnia are two examples (CBT-I). It’s important to have good sleeping habits and a comfortable sleeping environment in order to get the most out of any sleep-related treatment. This includes making sure that you’re utilizing the appropriate mattress and pillow for your specific needs.

The therapy of EDS if it is linked to another medical condition tends to focus on treating the root cause. Other treatments can be used to urge patients to improve their sleep hygiene and make these changes part of their daily routines.


What medical condition makes you sleep all the time?

What neurological causes excessive sleepiness?

Why do I want to sleep all the time and have no energy?

Why am I so tired when I sleep a lot?

Research shows that sleep deprivation is linked to a lack of energy. The body’s cycles appear to be upset and increased weariness during the day by any considerable deviation from regular sleep patterns.

Why am I sleeping 12 hours a day and still tired?

Why do I sleep more than 12 hours a day?

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