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Sleepiness Part 1

Wed, Sep 23, 2009

Sleep DisordersSleepiness I

Sleepiness is also called Somnolence, which means drowsiness, is categorized as:

  • a state of near-sleep
  • a strong desire for sleep
  • sleeping for unusually long periods, also known as hypersomnia.

It has three distinct meanings:

  • Referring both to the usual state preceding falling asleep
  • The chronic condition referring to being in that state independent of a circadian rhythm
  • Most commonly associated with the use of prescription medications such as mirtazapine or zolpidem.
WHAT IS PROBLEM SLEEPINESS?
Everyone feels sleepy at times. However,
when sleepiness interferes with daily routines
and activities, or reduces the ability to
function, it is called “problem sleepiness.”
A person can be sleepy without realizing it.
For example, a person may not feel sleepy
during activities such as talking and listening
to music at a party, but the same person
can fall asleep while driving home afterward.
You may have problem sleepiness if you:
n consistently do not get enough sleep, or
get poor quality sleep;
n fall asleep while driving;
n struggle to stay awake when inactive, such
as when watching television or reading;
n have difficulty paying attention or concentrating
at work, school, or home;
n have performance problems at work or
school;
n are often told by others that you are
sleepy;
n have difficulty remembering;
n have slowed responses;
n have difficulty controlling your emotions;
or
n must take naps on most days.

What is problem sleepi9ness? 

Everyone feels sleepy at times. However, when sleepiness interferes with daily routines and activities, or reduces the ability to function, it is called “problem sleepiness.” A person can be sleepy without realizing it. For example, a person may not feel sleepy during activities such as talking and listening to music at a party, but the same person can fall asleep while driving home afterward. 

You may have problem sleepiness if you:

  • consistently do not get enough sleep
  • get poor quality sleep
  • fall asleep while driving
  • struggle to stay awake when inactive, such
  • as when watching television or reading
  • have difficulty paying attention or concentrating
  • at work, school, or home
  • have performance problems at work or school
  • are often told by others that you are sleepy
  • have difficulty remembering
  • have slowed responses
  • have difficulty controlling your emotions
  • must take naps on most days

What causes problem sleepiness?

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and insomnia can cause problem sleepiness.

  • Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Sleep disorders, or certain drugs

Sleep-Wake Cycle

  • Each day there are two periods when the body experiences a natural tendency toward sleepiness:�
    • during the late night hours (generally between midnight and 7 a.m.)
    • and again during the midafternoon (generally between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.). 
  • If people are awake during these times, they have a higher risk of falling asleep unintentionally, especially if they haven’t been getting enough sleep.

Medical Conditions/Drugs

Certain medical conditions and drugs, including prescription medications, can also disrupt sleep and cause problem sleepiness. Examples

include:

  • Chronic illnesses such as asthma,
  • Congestive heart failure,
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Any other chronically painful disorder
  • Some medications to treat high blood pressure,�
    • some heart medications
    • and asthma medications such as theophylline;
  •  Alcohol
    • Although some people use alcohol to help themselves fall asleep, it causes sleep disruption during the night, which can lead to problem sleepiness during the day.
    • Alcohol is also a sedating drug that can, even in small amounts, make a sleepy person much more sleepy and at greater risk for car crashes and performance problems;
  • Caffeine
    • Whether consumed in coffee, tea, soft drinks, or medications, caffeine makes it harder for many people to fall asleep and stay asleep 
    • Caffeine stays in the body for about 3 to 7 hours 
    • When taken earlier in the day it can cause problems with sleep at night; and
  • Nicotine from cigarettes or a skin patch is a stimulant and makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Problem Sleepinessand and Adolescents 

  • Many high school and college students have signs of problem sleepiness, such as:
    • difficulty getting up for school
    • falling asleep at school
    • struggling to stay awake while doing homework
  • The need for sleep may be 9 hours or more per night as a person goes through adolescence. 
  • At the same time, many teens begin to show a preference for a later bed time, which may be due to a biological change. 
  • Teens tend to stay up later but have to get up early for school, resulting in their getting much less sleep than they need.
  • Many factors contribute to problem sleepiness in teens and young adults, but the main causes are not getting enough sleep and irregular sleep schedules. 
  • Some of the factors that influence adolescent sleep include:
    • social activities with peers that lead to later bedtimes
    • homework to be done in the evenings
    • early wake-up times due to early school start times
    • parents being less involved in setting and enforcing bedtime
    • employment, sports, or other
    • extracurricular activities that
    • decrease the time available for sleep
  • Teens and young adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems such as:
    • automobile crashes
    • poor performance in school and poor grades
    • depressed moods
    • problems with peer and adult relationships.
  • Many adolescents have part-time jobs in addition to their classes and other activities. 
  • High school students who work more than 20 hours per week have more problem sleepiness and may use more caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol than those who work less than 20 hours per week or not at all.

Watch Video: Fatigue and Sleepiness Among Insomnia Patients

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