Excessive daytime sleepiness is a very common sleep-related ailment. Individuals may complain of feeling tired, fatigued, sluggish, lethargic, or lacking in energy. Excessive daytime sleepiness is most often caused by sleep deprivation, obstructive sleep apnea and the use of sedating medications; however, other potential causes may include sleep disorders like narcolepsy and certain medical and psychiatric conditions.
Those with excessive daytime sleepiness tend to have poorer health and are at a greater risk of motor vehicle and work-related accidents. In fact, sleep problems contribute to a significant number of motor vehicle incidents each year. In addition, those with excessive daytime sleepiness may also suffer from compromised professional performance.
Because excessive daytime sleepiness most often occurs secondary to other conditions, such as medication use or other sleep disorders, evaluation and management typically involves the identification and treatment of underlying conditions. In particular, patients will be checked for obstructive sleep apnea. The patient will have a thorough medical history taken and physical exam performed. They may also be given a questionnaire or screening test. A polysomnogram (PSG), or sleep study, may be performed overnight, which electronically records the patient’s physical activity as they sleep. Depending on the diagnosis, patients may be able to relieve their excessive daytime sleepiness by discontinuing the use of any related medications or by making lifestyle changes. Medication may also be prescribed. If obstructive sleep apnea is present, the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or a similar system may be recommended.