Idiopathic hypersomnia

Are you feeling too sleepy at day time and are feeling it difficult to wake up in the morning? Then you are suffering from idiopathic hypersomnia. What is it? It is a sleeping disorder in which you feel extremely sleepy during the day time and feels it hard to wake up in the morning.

Difference between narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia

Narcolepsy Idiopathic hypersomnia
You may lose muscle control. You may not lose muscle control.
You may experience vivid dreams and hallucinations. You may not experience hallucinations and vivid dreams.
You may have interrupted leading to poor quality of sleep. You may have a continuous, uninterrupted sleep throughout the night.
You do not have a rapid eye movement (REM). You would have a rapid eye movement (REM).
Naps are refreshing. Naps are not refreshing.


The symptoms commonly develop during teenage or adulthood, which includes:

  • Sleeping for 14 to 18 hours a day
  • Sleeping during a meal or conversation
  • Feeling difficult to wake up in the morning
  • Naps during day time which do not relieve drowsiness

Other symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia include:

  • Low energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Being restless or agitated
  • Trouble maintaining concentration


Your symptoms due to idiopathic hypersomnia are not self-limiting. So, you would require special medications to alleviate the symptoms.


Your doctor may prescribe the same medication which is used in the treatment of narcolepsy, as there are no special medications designed for idiopathic hypersomnia.

Your doctor would prescribe CNS stimulants that keep you awake and active during the day time, these medications include modafinil, methylphenidate, and dexamphetamine.

Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants if there are any emotional problems disturbing your sleep.

Lifestyle modifications

  • You must follow a consistent sleeping pattern
  • You must avoid engaging in any activities that would interrupt your bedtime.
  • You must avoid caffeine and other alcoholic beverages if you are using medications such as amphetamine.


Your sleep specialist would carry out some tests to evaluate the exact underlying cause for your over sleepiness.

The two most important tests include:


Polysomnography is a nighttime sleep test. It helps your sleep specialist to rule out other sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea. For this, you will be kept in a separate room and is observed from the other room all the night. A set of electrodes are attached to your face, head and the body to record the brain waves, eye movements, brain activity, breathing pattern and snoring.

Multiple sleep latency test

In this test, your sleep specialist asks you to take naps throughout the day and observes the period it takes for you to fall asleep. Usually, if you have hypersomnia, it does not take more than 8 minutes for you to fall asleep.

Your sleep specialist may confirm the diagnosis as idiopathic hypersomnia if no other cause is found that makes you sleepy throughout the day and makes you take frequent naps during the daytime.


The exact cause of idiopathic hypersomnia is unknown. Although this disorder is similar to narcolepsy, it does not cause sleep attacks, and more over the naps during idiopathic hypersomnia are not refreshing like the naps in narcolepsy.