Irshaad Ebrahim (Medical Director of The London Sleep Centre) gives expert video advice on: What is hypersomnia?; Is hypersomnia common?; Is hypersomnia harmful? and more...
What is hypersomnia?
Hypersomnia refers to excessive need for sleep or excessive sleepiness. Hypersomnia is a characteristic symptom of narcolepsy, but it may also be a condition on its own. One could be sleepy without having narcolepsy or having another sleep disorder. The condition is then called primary hypersomnia because it is sleepiness without a known or identifiable cause.
Is hypersomnia common?
It is thought that hypersomnia affects about 1 in 20 people.
Is hypersomnia harmful?
Hypersomnia, or excessive sleepiness is always potentially harmful in that if one is excessively sleepy, there is a tendency to fall asleep doing complicated tasks such as driving, and meeting up in accidents because of falling asleep at the wheel, or if one is operating machinery. Or in a variety of areas where one's wakefulness, alertness, and concentration is required. So therefore, hypersomnia is by definition potentially harmful. Not only to oneself, but to others.