Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Helping you sleep better at night, so you can stay awake and enjoy your day

Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) can be a sign of many sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy or restless leg syndrome. Being sleepy during the day puts you at greater risk for accidents and increases your risk for health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Excessive daytime sleepiness is different than fatigue. When you are fatigued, you cannot summon the energy to do your daily tasks and often feel a lack of energy in your bones and muscles.

If you have excessive sleepiness, you may have energy to complete tasks, but once you sit down, you are overwhelmed with the urge to fall asleep. As a result, you may have trouble concentrating and keeping your eyes open.

Understanding Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Excessive daytime sleepiness is different than fatigue. When you are fatigued, you cannot summon the energy to do your daily tasks and often feel a lack of energy in your bones and muscles.

If you have excessive sleepiness, you may have energy to complete tasks, but once you sit down, you are overwhelmed with the urge to fall asleep. As a result, you may have trouble concentrating and keeping your eyes open.

IU Health Sleep Disorders physicians use a variety of diagnostic tools to help identify sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale

Questions assess your likelihood to fall asleep in normal situations such as driving, watching TV or sitting and chatting with someone. This tool gives insight into the severity of your sleepiness.

Overnight Sleep Study

If you rate high on the sleepiness scale, you may undergo an overnight sleep study so your doctors can observe how your body handles sleep. During a sleep study, metal discs called electrodes are attached to your skin like a sticker, and connected to an electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG monitors your brain activity to record sleeping patterns and to detect any abnormalities while you sleep. Video is used to watch your eye movements. Your breathing and muscle movements may also be recorded.

Home Sleep Study

You may be able to do a sleep study from the comfort of your own home depending on your overall health and other factors. Sleep monitoring equipment will be provided to you with instructions on how to set up, and where to return the equipment.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test

This sleep study takes place during the day and tests how quickly you fall asleep when sitting in a quiet space. Just like an overnight sleep study, you are connected to an EEG, which pinpoints the moment you fall asleep and how your brain behaves while sleeping. This test takes place at a sleep laboratory and lasts all day. You will take five scheduled 20-minute naps during the day in order to assess your level of sleepiness.

Diagnosis

IU Health Sleep Disorders physicians use a variety of diagnostic tools to help identify sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale

Questions assess your likelihood to fall asleep in normal situations such as driving, watching TV or sitting and chatting with someone. This tool gives insight into the severity of your sleepiness.

Overnight Sleep Study

If you rate high on the sleepiness scale, you may undergo an overnight sleep study so your doctors can observe how your body handles sleep. During a sleep study, metal discs called electrodes are attached to your skin like a sticker, and connected to an electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG monitors your brain activity to record sleeping patterns and to detect any abnormalities while you sleep. Video is used to watch your eye movements. Your breathing and muscle movements may also be recorded.

Home Sleep Study

You may be able to do a sleep study from the comfort of your own home depending on your overall health and other factors. Sleep monitoring equipment will be provided to you with instructions on how to set up, and where to return the equipment.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test

This sleep study takes place during the day and tests how quickly you fall asleep when sitting in a quiet space. Just like an overnight sleep study, you are connected to an EEG, which pinpoints the moment you fall asleep and how your brain behaves while sleeping. This test takes place at a sleep laboratory and lasts all day. You will take five scheduled 20-minute naps during the day in order to assess your level of sleepiness.

Your IU Health Sleep Disorders team will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that improves the quality of your sleep without interrupting your life. Your treatment plan may include:

Sleep Hygiene Education

Certain lifestyle changes may increase the quality of your sleep. Many habits, from smoking to drinking to watching TV, can negatively affect your sleep. Your team will help you understand which habits need to change and teach you how to implement these practices every night. They’ll also make recommendations to transform your bedroom into an environment that encourages restful sleep.

Medicine Therapies

Depending on your disorder and its severity, you may need to take prescription medicine to sleep. Although prescription sleep aids and sedatives prove effective in helping patients overcome daytime sleepiness, you they are not recommended for an extended period of time. You should also avoid taking over-the-counter medications such as nighttime medicines or antihistamines to help you sleep. These can make sleep disorders worse and do not offer a long-term solution.

Referral to Specialists

Other conditions such as arthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be at the root of your sleep problems. If your sleep disorder is caused by another medical condition, such as diabetes, you will be referred to one of the IU Health network specialists to help you manage your condition.

Treatment

Your IU Health Sleep Disorders team will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that improves the quality of your sleep without interrupting your life. Your treatment plan may include:

Sleep Hygiene Education

Certain lifestyle changes may increase the quality of your sleep. Many habits, from smoking to drinking to watching TV, can negatively affect your sleep. Your team will help you understand which habits need to change and teach you how to implement these practices every night. They’ll also make recommendations to transform your bedroom into an environment that encourages restful sleep.

Medicine Therapies

Depending on your disorder and its severity, you may need to take prescription medicine to sleep. Although prescription sleep aids and sedatives prove effective in helping patients overcome daytime sleepiness, you they are not recommended for an extended period of time. You should also avoid taking over-the-counter medications such as nighttime medicines or antihistamines to help you sleep. These can make sleep disorders worse and do not offer a long-term solution.

Referral to Specialists

Other conditions such as arthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be at the root of your sleep problems. If your sleep disorder is caused by another medical condition, such as diabetes, you will be referred to one of the IU Health network specialists to help you manage your condition.

Patient Stories for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

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