What is daytime sleepiness?
Daytime sleepiness is not a disorder in itself. It is rather a serious symptom that can have many possible causes such as, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and insomnia. However, if you’re like many people, you may not be certain that the symptoms you’re experiencing (or observing in others) are signs of daytime sleepiness.
One of the main reasons many people wind up feeling drowsy and sluggish during the day is insufficient sleep.
Most adults require somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Even getting 30-60 minutes less than the amount that your body needs can leave you feeling tired, groggy, and moody. This is especially true if you get insufficient sleep every night as your sleep debt accumulates over time.
Ongoing sleep debt may be the result of poor sleep habits, an irregular sleep schedule or a reduced opportunity for slee. It may also be the product of an undiagnosed sleep disorder like sleep apnea, or a disturbance in your circadian rhythm, or body clock.
Certain medications and underlying medical conditions can also sap your energy and make you feel tired most of the time.
How is sleepiness different from fatigue?
The word “tired” is often used interchangeably to describe feelings of “fatigue” and “sleepiness” but sleepiness is not necessarily the same as fatigue.
While sleepiness can make you wish you could just take a nap at work, fatigue is defined as an overwhelming sense of exhaustion, often accompanied by a reduced capacity to perform physical and mental work at normal levels. Simply put, fatigue is low energy that requires rest for recovery, not necessarily increased sleep.
Fatigue can be caused by a wide range of factors, including a lack of downtime, nutritional deficiencies, and underlying medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome. If you feel both fatigued and sleepy, however, the chances are that insufficient or disrupted sleep is part of your problem.
Use the following Symptoms Checklist – which was designed by medical professionals and sleep experts – to help you determine if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from daytime sleepiness.
Check any / all that apply to your situation:
When I wake up in the morning I usually wish I could sleep at least another hour.
I’d usually give anything just to lie down and nap for 20 minutes each day, without others knowing about it.
I often look forward to “sleeping away the day” on weekends or days off.
I doze in and out of sleep as I watch TV or read books.
I often have trouble focusing.
I am embarrassed and / or disappointed with my lack of production or performance at work, home, or in school.
I must have caffeine to function well during the day.
My sex life is suffering due to impotence and / or lack of interest or energy.
I often feel depressed.
I am subject to mood swings.
How can i get my energy back?
If you are experiencing just one of the symptoms included in the list above, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Battle.
Daytime sleepiness is a medical condition that negatively affects all aspects of the lives of sufferers. It can interfere with your daily life, including work, school, activities, and relationships. Furthermore, daytime sleepiness can actually endanger the lives of others due to avoidable workplace, home, or motor vehicle accidents.
If left untreated you are at risk for developing very serious consequences, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery (heart) disease
- Heart attack
- Injuries – to you or others – due to avoidable home, workplace, or motor vehicle accidents
- A weakened immune system that leaves you more susceptible to other illnesses and infections
Dr. Battle uses a variety of methods, including comprehensive physical exams and at-home sleep testing, to uncover the underlying cause of fatigue, sleepiness, and related symptoms.
Once Dr. Battle has determined why you’re feeling tired, she will work with you to develop a custom treatment plan. For most patients this involves taking control of sleep habits, improving sleep behavior and creating a lifestyle and home environment that’s conducive to sleep.
If Dr. Battle suspects you have excessive daytime sleepiness, a circadian rhythm disturbance or narcolepsy, she may recommend further medical tests or sleep studies.