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Alternative NamesSleepiness - during the day; Hypersomnia; Somnolence
Definition Return to top
Drowsiness refers to feeling abnormally sleepy during the day -- often with a strong tendency to actually fall asleep in inappropriate situations or at inappropriate times.
Considerations Return to top
Excessive daytime sleepiness (without a known cause) suggests the presence of a significant sleep disorder and is different from fatigue. Although depression, anxiety, stress, and boredom can contribute to excessive sleepiness, these conditions more typically cause fatigue and apathy.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
You can relieve drowsiness by treating the cause of the problem. For drowsiness due to depression, anxiety, boredom, or stress, try to solve problems without professional help first.
For drowsiness due to medications, talk to your health care provider about switching medications or discontinuing them. DO NOT CHANGE MEDICATIONS WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.
For drowsiness due to obesity and hypoventilation (reduced breathing), weight loss is recommended, and you should consult your health care provider.
Your health care provider can treat hypothyroidism, hypercalcemia, and hypo/hypernatremia.
For drowsiness due to narcolepsy, your doctor may prescribe stimulants (such as Ritalin).
For drowsiness due to other causes, seek medical help.
Consider buying a carbon monoxide monitor to check that the air in your home or apartment does not contain excessive levels of carbon monoxide.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Contact your health care provider if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The doctor will examine you to determine the cause of your drowsiness. Your sleep patterns will be investigated, and you'll have a psychological profile taken.
You may be asked the following medical history questions about your drowsiness:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
After seeing your health care provider:
If your health care provider made a diagnosis related to drowsiness, you may want to note that diagnosis in your personal medical record.
References Return to top
Morgenthaler T, Kramer M, Alessi C, Friedman L, Boehlecke B, Brown T, et al. Practice parameters for the psychological and behavioral treatment of insomnia: an update. An American Academy of Sleep Medicine report. Sleep. 2006;29:1415-1419.
Schwartz JR, Roth T. Shift work sleep disorder: burden of illness and approaches to management. Drugs. 2006;66:2357-2370.Update Date: 10/31/2007 Updated by: Robert Hurd, M.D., Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and physician in the Primary Care Clinic, Cincinnati Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.