What are the Causes of Daytime Sleepiness?

There are many causes of daytime sleepiness, and its severity can range from mild fatigue to constant exhaustion. Some common causes include a natural response to one’s normal sleep cycle, or simply a lack of sufficient sleep on a regular basis. Other potential sources could be caffeine, medications, or other stimulants. Many people suffer from medical conditions that disrupt their sleep and result in feelings of tiredness during the day. Excessive daytime sleepiness can be serious, as it might be a symptom of a sleep disorder. Insomnia and narcolepsy are just two examples of common problems. To uncover the causes of their sleepiness, people often consult their physicians and sometimes participate in sleep studies.

In some cases, daytime sleepiness could be a response to a person’s natural cycle of sleeping and waking. The human body is designed to feel sleepy at night, typically between 12:00 am and 7:00 am. In addition, many people often experience a period of sleepiness during the afternoon, anywhere between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Excessive daytime sleepiness, however, often indicates the presence of a sleep disorder or other medical problem.


Getting an insufficient amount of sleep can affect someone after only one night of being sleep-deprived. Medical professionals frequently refer to such a person as having a sleep deficit, which accumulates over time as the sufferer fails to get enough rest each night. The situation can sometimes be remedied by getting extra sleep on a weekend or day off, but often it is still not enough to make up for a regular lack of sleep. While anyone is susceptible to sleep deprivation, adolescents and shift workers are two examples of certain groups of people that have been observed experiencing the problem regularly, due to their typical schedules and sleep habits.

Other potential causes of daytime sleepiness can include caffeine and nicotine. Both are stimulants that can inhibit restful sleep. Some types of prescription medications can also have adverse effects on rest. Furthermore, some people might find alcohol to be sedating, but it can actually disturb sleep when people drink close to bedtime. Problems can also include painful medical conditions that make it difficult for someone to fall asleep. Some examples include arthritis and other chronic conditions, such as asthma.

In addition, physical ailments, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome (RLS), can disrupt one’s sleep. Sleep apnea occurs when someone briefly stops breathing periodically throughout the sleep cycle, causing him or her to wake each time. RLS refers to irritable or painful sensations in one’s legs that interfere with restful sleep. Several types of sleep disorders can also lead to daytime sleepiness. Insomnia can have several root causes, and some of its symptoms include an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep long enough to feel rested. Narcolepsy, which refers to excessive daytime sleepiness that results in falling asleep at inopportune times, is another type of sleep disorder.

People often seek professional advice for dealing with daytime sleepiness. The diagnosis and treatment usually varies according to a person’s specific complaints. Certain problems may be relieved by home remedies, such as eliminating caffeine late in the day, for instance. In serious cases, utilizing a diagnostic tool known as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale can help a physician determine whether someone has a particular type of sleep disorder.



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