Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) is a condition where people fall asleep repeatedly during the day; sometimes in the middle of eating a meal or during a conversation.
Check if it's hypersomnia
Excessive daytime sleepiness is different from feeling tired all the time.
If you have hypersomnia, you may:
- regularly nap during the day and not feel refreshed
- fall asleep during the day, often while eating or talking
- still sleep for long hours at night
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you often fall asleep during the day
- sleepiness is affecting your life
What happens at your appointment
The GP will want to find out why you're sleeping excessively. They might:
- ask you about possible causes of your sleepiness, such mental or physical health problems, or any medicines you may be taking
- suggest you keep a diary of when you sleep
- refer you to a doctor who specialises in sleep disorders
Treatment for excessive sleepiness will depend on what's causing it. It may include medicine to help keep you awake.
Causes of hypersomnia
Conditions that may be related to excessive sleepiness include:
|Additional symptoms||Possible cause|
|Falling into a deep sleep anywhere, without warning||narcolepsy|
|Loud snorting, breathing and snoring at night||sleep apnoea|
|An unusual feeling in your legs, particularly at night||restless legs syndrome|
|Low mood, little interest in things and feeling irritable||depression|
|Mood swings that range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows||bipolar disorder|
Some medicines, drinking too much alcohol and taking drugs can also cause excessive daytime sleepiness.
Sometimes there is no known cause. This is called idiopathic hypersomnia.
Things you can try to help your sleeping habits
Changing your sleep habits may not cure hypersomnia, but it might help you feel better.
- go to bed at the same time every night
- avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine
- create a peaceful sleeping environment
- if possible, avoid medicines that can cause drowsiness
- avoid working late into the night
It might also help to talk to your family and friends about your excessive daytime sleepiness so they're aware of it.
Page last reviewed: 04 August 2020
Next review due: 04 August 2023