Idiopathic hypersomnia is sleeping too much (hypersomnia) without an obvious cause. It is different from narcolepsy, because idiopathic hypersomnia does not involve suddenly falling asleep or losing muscle control due to strong emotions (cataplexy).
The usual approach is to consider other potential causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Other sleep disorders that may cause daytime sleepiness include:
Other causes of excessive sleepiness include:
Symptoms often develop slowly during adolescence or young adulthood. They include:
Other symptoms may include:
Cataplexy -- suddenly falling asleep or losing muscle control -- which is part of narcolepsy, is NOT a symptom of idiopathic hypersomnia.
The health care provider will take a detailed sleep history. Tests may include:
A psychiatric evaluation for atypical depression may also be done.
Idiopathic hypersomnia is usually treated with stimulant medications such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, and modafinil. These drugs may not work as well for this condition as they do for narcolepsy.
Important lifestyle changes that can help ease symptoms and prevent injury include:
Hypersomnia - idiopathic; Drowsiness - idiopathic; Somnolence - idiopathic
Consens FB, Chervin RD. Sleep Disorders. In: Goetz, CG, ed. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 54.
Tsai SC. Excessive sleepiness. Clin Chest Med. 2010; 31:341-351.
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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