Do you suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness?

excessive daytime sleepiness

Everybody has days when they feel less energetic or more sluggish than usual. You may sometimes understand why this is the case, such as a hectic schedule or a few late nights in a row. However, if you feel drowsy all of the time and are unable to figure out why, you may suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).

While occasional fatigue is normal, feeling sleepy all the time can be a sign of an underlying health condition. Some people with EDS find it difficult to stay awake even when they’re trying to concentrate or participate in social activities. Others experience regular microsleeps, or short periods of uncontrollable sleep lasting just a few seconds.

What might be the cause of EDS?
This is often the most difficult part, working out why and what factors are involved. Usually, this will need to involve your doctor as well.

Some of the possible reasons for being drowsy during the day are:

  • Lifestyle factors. Are you trying to get too much done and neglecting the sleep your body needs? Regardless of the reason for staying up late (work or parties) too many nights without enough sleep is bad for your health and will leave you tired during the day.
  • Poor sleep habits or not following an effective nighttime routine conducive to good sleep. Think about what you can do differently to get a better night’s sleep more consistently.
  • Physical well being or medical concerns such as sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy, chronic pain, heart disease, diabetes, medications that cause drowsiness, and even autoimmune diseases etc
  • Mental health issues like depression and anxiety can also be the root cause and have a big impact on your sleep.
  • Shiftwork or jet lag. If your schedule regularly changes or you’re travelling frequently, your body’s natural sleep rhythm can be disrupted.
Please note that EDS differs from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is why your GP should be consulted to help find the cause.
How is EDS treated?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as the treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause and if you think you may be suffering from EDS, it’s important to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. They will ask about your symptoms and sleep habits, and they may also recommend a sleep study to rule out any underlying sleep disorders. Once a diagnosis is made they may recommend some strategies that have been shown to be effective and which could include:
  • Adjusting work hours or lifestyle habits
  • Taking regular breaks during the day
  • Exercising regularly
  • Practicing stress-relieving techniques
  • Taking medications prescribed by a doctor to increase alertness or regulate sleep patterns

Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist who may use the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which is a screening tool that can determine what’s happening with your sleep. It could also be suggested you attend a sleep clinic for an overnight sleep study.

EDS can have a significant impact on your life if it’s not managed effectively. It can make it difficult to concentrate at work or school, and you may find yourself making more mistakes than usual. You may also be more likely to suffer from mood swings and become easily agitated. In severe cases, EDS can lead to accidents such as falling asleep at the wheel while driving. Dealing with it promptly is important and please remember our sleep experts are always on hand to answer your sleep health queries by phoning 1800 717 566.

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Queensland Sleep is an accredited sleep service. We are proud to have experienced doctors, nurses and sleep scientists on our highly specialised team.