“Work hard – nap hard.” That’s Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty’s tag line, referring to the frequent naps he takes while he’s supposed to be working in the Duck Commander Warehouse, The condition, which he charmingly refers to as “redneckolepsy” or “the tendency to fall asleep while working” has often been a trope for television comedy. “MASH’s” Sgt. Rizzo was often seen under the carriage of a jeep, more likely sleeping than working and “Seinfeld’s.” George Costanza even had his desk tailored to provide ideal work time napping conditions.
However, for some of us daytime fatigue is not so easily solvable and even detrimental to our daily activities. If you’re plagued by daytime fatigue, here are some probable causes and possible solutions.
According to the National Sleep foundation, up to 40 % of the population have suffered symptoms of hypersomnia in their lives. Hypersomnia can be characterized by excessive sleepiness during the day or unusually long amounts of time spent sleeping. The condition often results in difficulty staying awake, and can lead to instances of falling asleep at work or while driving, Other symptoms include lack of energy and the inability to think clearly.
Causes of Daytime Sleepiness
Hypersomnia can be attributed to sleep disorders including narcolepsy, or daytime sleepiness, and sleep apnea, which is the interruption of breathing during periods of sleep. Other causes include sleep deprivation and obesity. Overweight individuals tend to suffer from the condition, as do those with head injuries and neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Use of prescription drugs, such as antihistamines and tranquilizers can induce daytime sleepiness and abuse of drugs and alcohol can also lead to hypersomnia. The condition can also be a result of genetics or depression.
If drowsiness is interfering with your daily activities, talk to a doctor. Expect to be asked about how much sleep you get per night, whether or not you wake up at night, whether you fall asleep during the day, and your personal sleeping habits. You may also be questioned about drug intake and emotional problems.
Medical testing for hypersomnia may include, blood test, CT scans, and sleep tests called polysomnolgraphies. EEGs may also be ordered to measure the electrical activity of your brain.
The most common treatment for hypersomnia is prescription drugs. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, stimulants, or other medications. If sleep apnea is determined, your doctor may suggest a CPAP, which is a machine that delivers air flow to the nostrils while sleeping to keep airways open and involves wearing a mask over the nose during sleep. Doctors will also recommend avoiding medication that may cause drowsiness and may suggest the elimination of alcohol and caffeine.
If daytime sleepiness is affecting your ability to function, consult a doctor. There may be relief in sight. And, as always, keep us in the loop. We love to hear from you!