Millions of people, estimated at 3 million globally, suffer from sleep disorders either intermittent or chronic. One of the most common and well-known sleep disorders is narcolepsy. But there are also many other forms of excessive sleeping and tiredness such as hypersomnia. Even though both words essentially describe an inability to stay awake during the day and involve feeling excessively sleepy all the time, there are some key differences between narcolepsy and hypersomnia that can help in terms of diagnosis, treatment, and management. In this article, we will explore these differences so you can determine if you have symptoms that fit into one or other classifications better but firstly let us look at what each condition is exactly
What is Hypersomnia?
Hypersomnia is a medical disorder that causes an excessive need for sleep, and even extended periods of sleeping. It differs from regular, healthy sleep in that it affects the quality and duration of restful sleep. Hypersomnia can take many forms, including excessive daytime sleepiness, short naps lasting up to 20 minutes during the day, or longer naps lasting two hours or more. Furthermore, Hypersomnia can also involve feelings of grogginess upon awakening and difficulty staying awake for more than a couple of hours after waking up. Hypersomnia is far from normal and can lead to serious problems functioning properly when not treated correctly.
What is Narcolepsy?
- Narcolepsy is a serious neurological disorder characterized by sudden, uncontrollable, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Narcoleptics experience “sleep attacks” which come on suddenly and without warning, even when the individual has had enough sleep.
- Narcoleptics also often have difficulty staying awake for long periods of time and may experience low energy levels in the afternoon or evening. Narcoleptics may suffer from hallucinations or sleep paralysis, as well as other secondary symptoms such as memory problems, mood disturbances, and fatigue.
- Narcolepsy can severely impact an individual’s quality of life, making everyday tasks more difficult to complete. While there is no cure for narcolepsy, it can be managed with proper lifestyle modifications and medications prescribed by a healthcare provider.
Difference between Hypersomnia and Narcolepsy
Hypersomnia and Narcolepsy are two medical conditions related to sleeping disorders that may have some overlapping symptoms but differ in underlying causes.
- Hypersomnia is a sleeping disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, where you can sleep for up to ten hours or more during the day.
- In contrast, people with narcolepsy experience sudden periods of extreme exhaustion multiple times a day and have difficulty staying awake when performing activities such as talking or reading.
- While Hypersomnia is usually caused by lifestyle factors such as not getting enough quality sleep at night, Narcolepsy can be caused by physiological issues such as low levels of hypocretin—a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating alertness and wakefulness—in the brain.
Knowing the differences between Hypersomnia and Narcolepsy is important since the treatments vary depending on the condition.
Though both Hypersomnia and Narcolepsy are disorders that cause excessive daytime sleepiness, there are key differences between the two. hypersomnias tend to be caused by underlying medical conditions or medications, while narcolepsy is a neurological disorder. Treatment for hypersomnia focuses on correcting the underlying condition, while treatment for narcolepsy typically includes medication and lifestyle changes. If you think you may be suffering from either condition, talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis and starting treatment.