Hypersomnia also referred to as excessive day time sleepiness is a group of sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness caused by an unusual prolongation of non rapid eye movement sleep (NREM). People suffering from hypersomnia find it difficult to stay awake during the day. This disorder should be differentiated from narcolepsy. For a diagnosis of hypersomnia, symptoms must persist for more than a month and other causes of sleep disorders must be excluded. Patients even after sleeping for 16-18 hours still remain drowsy.


Causes of Hypersomnia

This medical condition has left doctors and researchers in the dark for centuries. The exact cause(s) are still unknown. 11Certain risk factors have been associated with hypersomnia.

  1. Head injuries following road traffic accidents, sports, occupational and domestic injury or assault may precipitate episodes of hypersomnia
  2. Infection with viruses e.g. infectious mononucleosis, viral lung infection and viral infection of the central nervous system are important risk factors
  3. Obesity- individuals with a BMI greater than 40 are more likely to develop excessive day time sleepiness.
  4. Family history-certain genes have been attributed as risk factors and such genes can be transmitted to family members.

Medical treatment of Hypersomnia

Symptoms of hypersomnia can be controlled with the use of certain drugs. However, patients will be placed on these drugs for a longtime. These drugs are not devoid of side effects and addiction.

  • Modafil- it is used as the first line agent in the treatment of hypersomnia. It helps keep the patient awake.
  • Other drugs used in treatment include- amphetamine, methylphenidate and antidepressants

Alternative Treatment of Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is a debilitating medical condition with poor outcome. Alternative treatment however has brought succor to most patients. Excellent results have been reported by patients who follow strict alternative and dietary treatment.

  1. Sleep hygiene-though not a definitive treatment, sleep hygiene is of great benefit to patients suffering from hypersomnia. The quality of night time sleep determines to a greater extent the rate of somnolence. Sleep hygiene has been used to reduce symptoms of hypersomnia
  2. Acupuncture- acupunctural science is now been accepted by most patients as an excellent form of therapy. Stimulation of certain areas of the human body with acupuncture needles improves mental alertness thus reducing sleepiness.
  3. Relaxation Exercise: This is a simple behavioral technique. Patients are trained to relax individual muscle groups one by one, and to regulate breathing. Relaxation has to be practiced regularly between the training sessions. This can be done during bedtime to improve quality of sleep.
  4. Herbs like lemon balm, damiana, St John’s wort and vermin improves symptoms of hypersomnia. They relief nervous stress, overcome excessive day time sleepiness and ease tension.

Home remedies of Hypersomnia

  1. Stress and night jobs can exacerbate symptoms of hypersomnia. It is advisable to get quality sleep at night which reduces day time somnolence
  2. Reduce intake of alcohol especially at night, avoid caffeine and stop cigarette smoking
  3. Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet plan because there help regulate your circadian rhythm.
  4. The role of water cannot be emphasized. Taking adequate about of water nourishes and detoxifies the body
  5. Exercise regularly. Incorporating an exercise schedule improves well being. The release of serotonin is increased after 30 minutes of exercise. Serotonin improves the quality and depth of sleep.

Dietary solution of Hypersomnia

  1. Certain foods are rich in melatonin e.g. tart cherry extract. Melatonin is a neurotransmitter that modulates the circadian rhythm. Eating such foods has been proven to aid sleep.
  2. Legumes like lentil beans peas, tofu, and cruciferous vegetables are rich in protein, vitamins and micronutrients. A vegetable meal can be enjoyed when garnished with fruit desert.
  3. Aloe vera drink is excellent in treating insomnia, sleepiness, headaches and depression. A glass of aloe vera drink before bed time improves quality of sleep hence increasing mental alertness when patient is awake.

Vitamins and minerals for treating Hypersomnia

The role of vitamins and minerals in the human body cannot be emphasized. Neurotransmitters regulate the functions of the nervous systems, control mood and the wake sleep cycle. Vitamins and minerals are needed as activators, co-factors and in the synthesis of these neurotransmitters.

  • Some studies have shown that patient with vitamins A, B, E and K deficiency have higher risk of developing sleep disorders. Fruits and vegetables provides adequate amount of these vitamins.
  • Zinc, selenium, molybdenum are micronutrients needed in small amount by the human body but there are essential for optimal body function. When added in diet of patients suffering from hypersomnia, mental alertness is improved.
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