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Coping With Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Updated on April 11, 2009

Excessive daytime sleepiness is a condition that causes the sufferer to feel extremely tired during the day even after a good nights sleep. If you find yourself sleeping just fine through the night but waking up feeling very tired, then feeling the overwhelming need to take taps during the day you may be experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness.

This isn't just some long named condition for lazy people, excessive daytime sleepiness is a neurological sleep disorder. It can sometimes manifest itself with/as narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that can cause a person to fall asleep at random times without warning. But Excessive sleep disorder does not necessarily mean that the sufferer is also narcoleptic.

My Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Experience

I was diagnosed with excessive daytime sleepiness after a sleep study in 2007. My symptoms were pretty easily classified as a sleep disorder, but understanding the real cause required an over night stay and small sensors attached to my body and head. I was barely able to stay awake during work, I was forgetful and absentminded, and highly irritable.

I was certain that it was something to do with my sleep at night that was causing me to be so tired. The overnight sleep study showed that my nighttime sleep was actually pretty normal. I was then asked to do a MSLT test also known as Multiple Sleep Latency Test. This is a daytime nap study that monitors the amount of time it takes a person to fall asleep and also counts sleep-onset REM periods. The nap test was actually difficult. Because I was stuck in a room with dim light just watching TV, I had to fight to stay awake during each of the 3 hour breaks in between naps. I didn't even realize how difficult it was for me to stay awake until the study.

The test determines that a normal person falls asleep in about 10 minutes. Anything under 5 minutes is severe sleepiness. Over the course of 5 naps, I feel asleep in and avereage 3.2 minutes.

My Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Symptoms

Excessive daytime sleepiness for me caused a lot of problems at one of my prior jobs. Because I was so drowsy I had a hard time paying attention to detail. I would sit at my desk and just close my eyes fighting to stay awake. I was also finding myself becoming increasingly absentminded, forgetting to do the most obvious, easiest of tasks such as putting the correct date for a payroll.I was sleeping in one of the unused offices at every lunch break.

On the hardest days I would drink coffee, but also having severe acid reflux, drinking coffee is trouble for me. I had to make the choice.. If I want to stay awake was I willing to puke. Gross, but true.

My home life is difficult sometimes. I am so tired some days. I take naps while my 4 year old daughter stays awake playing KidZui on the computer. Because of my drowsiness I am short tempered when tired and am known to snap and becoming extremely irritable over small things. I forget things, often. I can have conversations with people, even feeling like I am fully awake, and they just leave me. I can't remember at all. For example my mom showed a pair of shoes to me in early December that she bought for my daughter I told her I thought they were great and loved them. When Christmas came and she said she had the shoes for me to wrap, I had lost all memory that she had bought them for her. It wasn't until I saw them that I remembered.

I've never fallen asleep without warning. I know when I need to go lay down and usually I can fight it enough if I am somewhere like work, a meeting, etc. When I drive, the sun shining towards me and heat seems to make me very tired. I have never had to pull to the side of the road, I have never fallen asleep while driving, but I have had to take a nap for awhile once I made it to my destination.

How I Handle EDS

I tried to take medication for EDS. I was on Provigil for about 3 weeks but it caused me to feel sick by about 4pm each evening. I was so ill that I had to go to bed and my boyfriend at the time would then have to take care of my daughter for the rest of the night.

I find that sleeping pills at night actually make the daytime sleepiness worse so I avoid them. I pretty much just take a nap when I'm tired and that is how I deal.

Excessive daytime sleepiness comes and goes for me. I can go months at a time where I am fully awake during the day, and then the next few months I may not be able to make it through the day without at least 1 hour nap during the day.

Your Experience With EDS?

Wanna share your story with EDS. Please feel free to share in the comments.


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    • profile image

      claire 7 years ago

      I feel this exact same way. I got a great night's rest, 9-10 hours, passed out cold until I had to go to the bathroom. After waking up and being up and about, it only took an hour before I felt the need to lay down before starting my school work. I laid down telling myself I was only going to sleep for 10 minutes and ended up sleeping for two hours. Woke up, made a meal, then laid on the couch just to "rest" and fell asleep for another two hours. As soon as the sun began to set a little before 6 pm I felt awake. I feel as if its the daylight that causes me to be so sleepy. Because of this I've had to adjust my schedule to sleep more into the day and work later into the night.

      Mine also comes in spells like yours. I feel fine during the day for a few months and then suddenly daylight is the end of me for a couple months. I have also had my thyroid checked and that's normal and I know I sleep like a baby through the night. For me it isn't how many hours of sleep I got through the night but what time of day I wake up.

      I hope someone can figure this out!

    • profile image

      Still sleepy at age 48 7 years ago

      Hello. I am from Denmark so please bear with My English.

      I have had the same symptoms since age of 15 but these. It is horrible because everybody thinks You are lazy, but You are really just so tired ALL the time. I have been diagnosed with mild sleepapnea 4 years ago.I hate the CPAP but I do use it ca 3 hours a night. It does absolutely nothing to make me fell more rested and I guess that is why i hate it so. So i still go on livng with an powerfull tiredness. Everything daily thing i do is an act of will and not from the fun of doing things.

      I do wish they would come up with a reason for this condition.

    • profile image

      Cheryl 7 years ago

      Great hub. I was also recently diagnosed with Excessive Daytime Sleepiness after having the MSLT (Multiple Sleep Latency Test) performed after a recommendation from my pain management doctor, as he has suspected my exhaustion may be neurologically related to sleep disorder. Still no firm diagnosis regarding my pain issues, but the EDS is one more piece of the puzzle that factors into my case. The MSLT is the gold standard for diagnosing EDS as well as narcolepsy, so I highly recommend for folks battling daytime exhaustion. Also, along with thyroid, have bloodwork done and checked for vitamin deficiency, particularly B12, iron, and D, as they play a huge rule in immunity and energy levels in women. I had no idea I was low in these.

    • profile image

      Michael 7 years ago

      My symptoms are similar to those of ernie.I too have been diagnosed with mild sleep apnoea, but like ernie I cannot tolerate Cpap.My GP feels I am depressed and has prescribed citalopram, which doesn't seem to make much difference.I feel drowsy most of the day and will fall asleep if I lie down anywhere. I have no energy and my memory has worsened. Anyone out there with similar symptons ?

    • profile image

      ernie 8 years ago

      my symptoms sound like sunstreeks to a t. i'm 58 yr old male been this way for 25 years.have had 5 sleep studies and mslt's in that time.1 said i had some degree of sleep apnea. i tried c pap for 6 months with several different masks. it made my nighttime sleep horrible.i'm very depressed to say the least once in a vblue moon a nap helps for about 2 hrs but rarely. i'm at a loss. it destroys all areas of your life. have tried provigil made me feel anxious and still sleepy amphetamines up to 50mg a day no help

    • profile image

      Michelle D 8 years ago

      So happy to see others have this problem. If you asked me at any time of the day if I could go to sleep at that very moment the answer would always be yes. I have a roommate who is constantly on the go, and despite the fact that I work full time and go to school full time, I always feel so lazy in comparison! If I'm not working or studying, I'm most definitely SLEEPING. My family members have commented on this problem, as I almost always must take a nap during family visits. My thyroid levels were checked and came back normal. Please update if you ever get any answers for your problem! I'm only 25 and I have the memory of an 85 year old.

    • profile image

      sleepyhead 8 years ago

      jarn that is me too . I need about 10-12 hours sleep to feel okay during the day. Somedays, I could sleep the whole day and ususally what drags me out of bed is hunger - or having to work.

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 8 years ago

      Interesting hub. I can relate to daytime sleepiness, but mine is caused by restless legs syndrome. I hope you've found a solution that works for you. Great information.

    • Jarn profile image

      Jarn 8 years ago from Sebastian, Fl

      Hmm. I'm honestly not sure whether this problem is me or not. I get a decent night's sleep, but unless I get a minimum of 10 hours I cannot function during the day. If I don't set an alarm I'll go up to 14 hours a night. Any thoughts? And yes, I've had my thyroid checked.

    • sunstreeks profile image

      sunstreeks 9 years ago from Western Washington

      Thanks Staci.. I will look into it.

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Sunstreeks, I found a link to an article that can begin to explain the issues with diagnosing low thyroid.

      If you are interested in further information, my recommendation is to stear clear from articles and literature that stress the TSH blood test for diagnosis and cite Synthroid as the preferred course of treatment.

      Wishing you the best.

      Staci Barbour

    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 9 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Sleeping is really one of my hobbies. I enjoy my daytime sleep, i.e. if I get to rest for a while during daytime on one of the days, which is a rare event. I work at my hospital from 8 to 8. Especially on a holiday or on a sunday I do enjoy my beauty sleep in daytime without feeling guilty.

    • sunstreeks profile image

      sunstreeks 9 years ago from Western Washington

      I have had more then one thyroid check. When I've gone into my doctor repeatedly for tiredness before the sleep study they always checked my thyroid as first though. Always came back fine. I do not have health insurance right now, so I just deal with it, but do you know of other tests that would be better to check the thyroid other then the blood tests??

      I'm all ears for suggestions

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Sunstreeks, have you thought about low thyroid as the possible culprit? This condition can cause a number of symptoms that you referenced in your Hub. It can also be difficult to detect with customary blood tests.


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