THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic has left many of us feeling exhausted and irritated.
While feelings of tiredness can be put down to stress or a poor night’s sleep, constant napping could be a sign of hypersomnia.
Speaking to The Sun, Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant Lee Chambers said Hypersomnia is a condition that leaves you feeling sleepy throughout the day – it is also known as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).
He said the condition can leave you feeling sleepy – even if you’ve had a full sleep cycle.
If you’re struggling to function throughout the day or if you’re easily irritated then this could be a form of hypersomnia.
The condition can be primary or secondary and secondary hypersomnia often means that you are suffering from another medical condition.
Primary hypersomnia is usually caused by issues in the brain that control sleep and waking functions.
Secondary hypersomnia is a result of other medical conditions that cause poor sleep such as sleep apnea.
Lee added: “It can also potentially be result of low thyroid function or a traumatic brain injury, and certain medications can trigger hypersomnia in individuals.”
But how do you know if you’re suffering from hypersomnia and what are the key signs to look out for?
1. Low energy
The main symptom of hypersomnia is constant tiredness.
As a result of this tiredness it’s likely that you will be lacking in energy and people with the condition will usually take naps throughout the day without experiencing that drowsy feeling.
People with hypersomnia also have difficulty waking up from a long period of sleep.
Sleep expert Hope Bastine, who is resident expert for sleep technology firm Simba also said that too little sunlight can also lead to hypersomnia.
She added that getting some fresh air is a great way to boost your energy levels and encouraged people suffering with low levels of energy to get their feet moving.
She said: “You can’t beat a good old-fashioned race to get little feet moving and your endorphins flowing.
“Think running, skipping, jumping over puddles…wherever your imagination takes you.”
2. Feeling irritable
We’ve all woke up from broken sleep feeling a little lousy – but it usually goes away with our first morning coffee.
If you’re continuously feeling irritable throughout the day then this could be a sign of hypersomnia.
Experts recommend that a sleep routine is a great way to minimise the symptoms of hypersomnia – so if you’re feeling irritable then keeping a sleep diary could help you establish what you should and shouldn’t be doing before bed.
3. Loss of appetite
A loss of appetite can be put down to many things and sometimes the medication you are taking could mean you don’t want to eat your favourite foods.
But if you’re suffering other symptoms of hypersomnia such as low energy it’s likely cooking dinner isn’t going to be on the top of your to-do list.
Experts say that if you’re suffering from hypersomnia then you should try and have a balanced diet.
They also recommend that you cut out alcohol and don’t use drugs.
Top tips to help you get a better night’s sleep
IF you’re suffering from broken sleep then it’s likely you’re feeling exhausted.
Speaking to The Sun, James Wilson – aka the Sleep Geek, said there are a few things you can do if you think you’re suffering from Hypersomnia.
“If poor sleep is the issue then start by looking at the basics such as is your mattress, duvet and pillow right for you.
“Consider if your sleep routine matches your sleep type.
“Larks get up and go to bed earlier, while owls are more likely to get up late and go to bed later, in the middle are typical types.”
He also said that your target sleep time also needs to match your sleep type.
He added: “If you are in bed for 30 minutes and not asleep you need to reset your mind. Listen to something like a spoken word book or a podcast and let your mind wander.
“Have a consistent wake up time, as this allows your body to get into a consistent routine. A lie in of an hour and a half is ok, but anymore than that your body gets confused and your sleep starts to suffer.”
If you’re loosing sleep then it’s likely that you’re going to experience some feelings of anxiety.
Previous studies conducted by neuroscientists have found that being sleep deprived amplifies your anticipatory anxiety levels.
When this happens the brain’s amygdala and the insular cortex are fired up – these are parts of the brain that are associated with emotional processing.
The result is a pattern that mimics brain activity which is also seen in people who suffer from anxiety disorders.
5. Difficulty remembering things
This is a symptom which is usually seen in the elderly.
If you have a poor quality of sleep then this can cause significant memory loss and can even deteriorate your brain, according to a study by experts at the University of California.
Sleep deprivation can also over-stimulate parts of the brain, this is because of the brain’s so-called “neural plasticity” – this is how efficiently your brain adapts to new situations.
Treatment and prevention
Treatments can vary depending on what has caused the condition.
Doctors could prescribe stimulants which are used to help you feel more alert and awake.
In general changing your lifestyle is usually the best way to treat hypersomnia.
Lee added: “For some people, medication will be the answer, and medications that treat narcolepsy such as modafinil may be an option.
“Changing our lifestyle is a critical part of long term outcomes, including a consistent sleep routine, and having curfews for big meals, exercise and stimulants in the evening.
“Use of alcohol and drugs tends to exacerbate hypersomnia and should be avoided, while ensuring we get natural light and consume a healthy diet will increase our overall energy levels.
“Finally, a calm sleep environment that is dark, cool, and free of stimulation is a great place to start and experiment with to find your optimal balance”.
LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Anshu Kaura added that clinical management is key to ensuring positive health outcomes.
“Addressing the cause of the hypersomnia allows for a management plan to be created.
“Sleep hygiene is recommended when treating hypersomnia. This includes considerations to your sleep environment and ensuring you are at a calm state when retiring to sleep.
“Some patients are recommended to keep a sleep diary to gain insight into their sleep patterns.”