Debunking Sleep Myths: Does Daytime Tiredness Mean You Need More Sleep at Night?
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Lack of sleep typically takes the blame for exhaustion, and if you’re logging less than seven hours of shut-eye each night, achieving the recommended seven to nine hours should be your first step to overcoming daytime tiredness. But if you’re already getting the target amount and still feel wiped out, you may have one of the following underlying sleep disorders.
The disorder is most commonly marked by excessive, loud snoring and snort-like breathing interruptions, but people with sleep apnea may also experience daytime exhaustion. That’s because the pauses in breathing during the night can interrupt sleep, making it difficult for your body to get the rest it needs. If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, talk to a doctor. When left untreated, the condition can lead to an increased chance of heart trouble, diabetes, and other health complications. Lifestyle changes as well as treatments such as using a CPAP machine can ease sleep apnea and help you feel more rested..
People who routinely get a good night’s sleep yet can’t stay awake throughout the day could also have narcolepsy—a condition caused by the lack of a brain chemical called hypocretin that regulates sleep cycles and keeps us alert. Those with narcolepsy also tend to fall asleep unexpectedly throughout the day and may experience hallucinations. While there is no cure, medication can improve symptoms so that you feel less drowsy.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
If your doctor rules out sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and other factors that could cause exhaustion (such as mental disorders or certain medications), he or she may consider a diagnosis of excessive daytime sleepiness. The best way to address this disorder is to look for its underlying cause, which may mean adjusting your sleep schedule, changing bedroom environment, and even learning some stress management techniques. Your doctor may also suggest that you take naps throughout the day when possible, avoid alcohol, and consider altering any prescriptions that trigger drowsiness. On the other hand, certain medications can also be helpful. Your doctor may prescribe medication that works by altering the action of chemicals in your brain, or other medication that acts as a stimulant to help you feel more alert. Before starting any medication, make sure your doctor has a complete picture of your health so you can make the best decision together.