Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)Overview

Excessive sleepiness and sleeping (hypersomnia) means you struggle to stay awake during the day.

Check if it's hypersomnia

Excessive sleepiness and sleeping is different from feeling tired all the time.

If you have hypersomnia, you will:

  • regularly nap during the day and not feel refreshed
  • fall asleep during the day, often while eating or talking
  • still sleep for long hours at night

See a GP if:

  • you often fall asleep during the day
  • sleepiness is affecting your life

What happens at your appointment

Your GP will want to find out why you're sleeping excessively. They might:

  • ask questions to test you for depression
  • suggest you keep a diary of when you sleep
  • refer you to a doctor who specialises in sleep disorders

Treatment for excessive sleepiness will depend on what's causing it. It may include medicine to help keep you awake. In some cases, there may not be any medicine that helps.

Causes of hypersomnia

Any other symptoms you have might give you an idea of what's causing your excessive sleepiness. But don't self-diagnose – always see a GP.

Additional symptoms Possible cause
Falling into a deep sleep anywhere, without warning narcolepsy
Loud snorting, breathing and snoring at night sleep apnoea
An unusual feeling in your legs, particularly at night restless legs syndrome
Low mood, little interest in things and feeling irritable depression

Some medicines, drinking too much alcohol and taking drugs can also cause excessive daytime sleepiness.

Sometimes there is no cause. This is called idiopathic hypersomnia.

Things you can try to help your sleeping habits

Changing your sleep habits won't cure hypersomnia, but it might help you feel better.

Try to:

  • go to bed at the same time every night
  • avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine

It might also help to talk to your friends and family about your excessive sleepiness so they're aware.

Page last reviewed: 03/08/2017
Next review due: 03/08/2020