Do you feel sleepy and find it hard to concentrate at work during the day? Learn how to stay alert, ways to avoid daytime sleepiness, and get a good night's sleep.
Everyone feels sleepy and tired some days if they do not get enough sleep or due to exhaustion or excessive physical activity or jet lag, which is quite normal. But feeling sleepy during the day even after getting enough rest at night and taking frequent naps in the day is called hypersomnia.
Feeling sleepy regularly during the day might get in the way of other day-to-day activities. Poor sleep hygiene, sleep deprivation, and staying awake very late at night are the main causes of daytime sleepiness. In some cases, excessive sleepiness is a sign of some underlying condition.
Sleep disorders and conditions that prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep are responsible for daytime sleepiness. Some of the common causes include:
Restless leg syndrome.
A side effect of some hypertensive, antidepressants, antiemetics, antipsychotic, or anti-epileptic drugs.
The symptoms commonly seen with daytime sleepiness are:
Difficulty concentrating at work or school.
Sleep deprivation can have the following negative impact on the body:
The immune system becomes weak.
Increases the risk of respiratory infections.
It can reduce the production of growth hormones and testosterone.
Increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as sleep helps the heart vessels to heal and maintain the blood pressure.
Increases the production of insulin, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The following are some tips to prevent daytime sleepiness and to improve nighttime sleep:
Get 7 to 9 Hours of Sleep at Night - Many of us sleep late or wake up early to study or work. But it is important to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Getting inadequate nighttime sleep is the main cause of daytime sleepiness.
Sticking to a Schedule - Train your body to sleep and get up at a fixed time every day. This helps the internal clock to stay alert during the day and sleepy during the night.
Do Not Use Electronic Devices on the Bed - It is best to avoid using all distractions like mobiles, tablets, laptops, etc., away from the bed. And avoid watching TV before you go to sleep. The light from these devices might interfere with sleep.
Do Not Skip Meals - It is important to eat healthy breakfast and lunch on time. Skipping meals might make you feel energy deprived and make you tired and sleepy during the day.
Exercise Regularly - Getting 30 minutes of exercise every day helps you get a good night sleep and also provides energy during the day.
Sun Exposure - It is recommended to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate our sleep pattern.
Avoid Working or Studying Up Late at Night or Early Morning - Instead of scheduling meeting or studying late at night or waking up early to finish your work, distribute your work in a way that you get at least 7 hours of sleep. If you sleep properly at night, you will be more productive and less sleepy the next day.
Avoid Going to Bed If You Are Just Tired - Do not go to bed when you are physically exhausted, as you might not be able to sleep. Go to bed only if your eyes feel droopy and you are nodding off.
Do Not Take Long Naps During the Day - Taking a short nap during the day might make you feel energetic and refreshed. But taking a long nap might make you less sleepy at night.
Avoid Taking a Nap During Late Afternoon - Sleeping during the late afternoon will interfere with nighttime sleep.
Do Yoga and Meditation - Yoga and meditation will help you relax and make you stress-free. This will help you sleep better at night.
Drink Caffeinated Beverages - Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages might help you stay awake during the day. But avoid drinking it 6 hours before bedtime, as it can interfere with sleep.
Maintain the Temperature of Your Room - Make sure that the room temperature is maintained around 23 ℃, as it will help you sleep properly. By doing this, your sleep will not be disturbed by feeling too cold or too hot during the night.
Switch off All Sources of Light - When the room is dark, the pineal gland in the brain releases melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates the sleep pattern. So turn off all lights and electronic devices before you sleep.
Relax Before Going to Bed - Activities like meditation, taking a hot shower, listening to soft music, and reading a novel will help you relax. Try doing these before your bedtime, as it might improve sleep.
Do Not Consume Alcohol at Night - Consuming alcohol at night might prevent you from getting a deep sleep, which will make you sleepy during the day.
Consult a Sleep Medicine Physician - If you are sleepy during the day due to sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, etc., it is best you consult a sleep medicine physician.
Consult a Psychiatrist - If you are depressed or suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, and if it is affecting your sleep, get help from a psychiatrist.
If your sleep problems have developed after taking medicines, consult your doctor for alternate drugs or ways you can overcome this side effect. To know more about health conditions that can result in daytime sleepiness, consult a sleep medicine physician online.
Treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness would involve nervous system stimulants such as Methylphenidate and Modafinil, antidepressants such as Fluoxetine, Citalopram, Paroxetine, and Sertraline, and Sodium oxybate can also be used.
Excessive sleepiness is a sign of dementia that is caused by Lewy body disease. Lewy body disease would include parkinsonism. Patients of parkinsonism will consist of excessive daytime sleepiness or restlessness and inability to sleep at night.
The vitamin that is associated with excessive sleepiness is Vitamin D. Many studies have proven that excessive daytime sleepiness is linked to the deficiency of vitamin D. However, vitamin B12, iron, potassium, and magnesium deficiencies have also proven to be linked with excessive daytime sleepiness to a limited amount.
When a person experiences complete restlessness during the day and feels sleepy during the daytime that is noted to affect the person's daily routine is considered excessive daytime sleepiness. These people will feel less tired during the night time.
The following are the most common causes of excessive daytime sleepiness, they are
- Obstructive sleep apnea.
- Sedative medicines intake for any other disease condition.
- Psychiatric conditions.
- Sleep disorders like narcolepsy.
The diagnostic test used to diagnose excessive daytime sleepiness is known as a multi sleep latency test. It is considered the gold standard diagnostic tool.
Having good night sleep for seven to eight hours continuously at night can avoid your excess sleepiness during the day time. However, pregnancy is a tiring condition, and it is okay if you have more sleep than the average days. Having short naps during the most sleepy spells also would reduce sleep during the rest of the day.
Adequate sleep of 7 to 8 hours is the key to avoiding daytime sleepiness naturally. Other ways are avoiding caffeine intake before sleep, eating healthy meals, a proper exercise routine, and having a small 20 to 30 minus nap after lunch, etc.,
When the cause of excessive daytime sleepiness is diagnosed as a sleep disorder like narcolepsy, it is a disability to the affected individual. A person suffering from narcolepsy sleeps anytime without experiencing any sign that he is going to sleep. These individuals might sleep during driving or even swimming, which can be life-threatening.
If daytime sleepiness is excessive for one or two weeks, and if it resolves, it is normal. But if it does not resolve on its own even for weeks, it is not normal. It can be solved with some lifestyle changes that adjust the individual's sleep habits. In a worst-case scenario, it could also be a sleep disorder. Therefore it is essential to get consulted with a doctor to be diagnosed correctly.
The condition where a person feels so sleepy during the day and can't sleep at night is known as insomnia. It can be due to many reasons like a jet lag after a journey, increased caffeine intake, mood, or sleep disorders. If there is increased sleepiness during day time for more than a month, it is essential to have yourself consulted with a doctor.
Feeling sleepy even after sleeping for 8 hours is a typical symptom in a condition known as hypersomnia. It might be due to a sleep disorder like narcolepsy, problems in the autonomic nervous system, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, trauma, tumor, etc.,
If you feel sleepy after waking up, it might be a sign that you are not having an adequate quantity of sleep, or you might be having a poor quality of sleep. You can try to modify your sleep habits like reducing your caffeine intake, etc. If this symptom is progressive, you might need to consult with your doctor regarding this condition.
Last reviewed at:
15 Feb 2020 - 4 min read
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