Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) – Causes, Symptoms and Prevention.

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Excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS is a condition where a person suffers from excessive sleepiness during his or her normal working hours and almost feels the inability to stay awake. This is also alternatively called as hyersomnia, dyssomnia, somnolence, and wakefulness.

Daytime sleepiness is considered excessive if it considerably interferes with a person’s daily life even if he or she has had a good night’s sleep. It is a common complaint in the neurological practice. In such a case, neurologists not only treat the symptoms that are neurological in nature, but will also look for some primary neurological disorders such as Parkinson diseases, or Alzheimer’s diseases.


•    Sleepiness during the daytime is very common among the aged people. This impairs cognition and functioning of the body. Regardless of the reason, the cause of the EDS should be identified and the sleep apnea is to be excluded. Hypothyroidism is a common cause among the older people though sleep apnea is not that common. Thus, aged people suffering from EDS should not be given sedative-hypnotics for their treatment.

•    Many different types of medications are there, which can cause drowsiness during the daytime. Many over-the-counter drugs or antidepressants are quite famous for the above-mentioned reason. Moreover, alcohol abuse also causes irregularity in the patterns of sleep. Thus, if these medications cause excessive sleepiness that affects the patient’s daily life, the doctor should be immediately consulted.

•    Behavioural sleep deprivation is the most common cause for the excessive sleepiness during the daytime. Almost everyone is responsible for self-induced case of sleep deprivation at some point of time. Staying awake until late hours of the night causes this condition. Adolescents, shift-workers are the most affected group.

•    Narcolepsy is another important cause, which affects about one person out of 2000 in the USA. It is a chronic disease and has no treatment or cure. It is characterised by increased fatigue and uncontrollable sleepiness during the day.


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Symptoms may include:

•    Irritability
•    Drowsiness
•    Hallucinations
•    Memory loss
•    Reduces awareness
•    Feeling of fatigue in the daytime followed by frequent naps
•    Mood swings
•    Anxiety
•    Decrease in energy levels

                                                                   •    Loss of weight or increase in body weight


Prevention of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

•    Exercise:

After a session of exercise, our body tires out. This tiredness makes it easier for a person to fall asleep. It also helps a person to feel more active and awake during the day.

•    Limitation of alcohol and caffeine intake:

Though it is popularly believed that, alcohol makes a person sleepy, but it does just the opposite. For the same reason, even caffeine intake should be limited.

•    Naps, if required:

If anyone still feels sleepy and feels the need for a nap, these naps should be strategically planned as they may prove to be helpful. Studies have shown that 20-minute naps are just enough for a person to feel rejuvenated.

•    Regular sleeping habits:

Setting a proper sleeping habit and a schedule for waking up, can help a person to get rid of this excessive sleepiness condition during the daytime.

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