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Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)

Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) is a condition where people fall asleep repeatedly during the day.

Check if it's hypersomnia

Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) 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

To find out why you're sleeping excessively, a GP 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

Sometimes other conditions may be related to excessive sleepiness (hypersomnia). These conditions can have additional symptoms.

Possible causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.
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 excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia), but it might help you feel better.

Try to:

  • 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