Have you ever yawned your way through a morning meeting or had trouble staying awake during an early class? You’re not alone. The difference between your sleepiness and the sleepiness of someone who has hypersomnia is frequency. People with hypersomnia are often excessively sleepy during the day, which makes it difficult to perform normal activities and reduces the risk for workplace injuries and motor vehicle accidents. While there is no cure for this sleep disorder, there are treatments available to alleviate the symptoms and help prevent some of the complications. Talk with your health care provider to determine which treatment will help you with the fewest side effects.
One treatment for hypersomnia is the administration of antidepressants, particularly tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs control the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters play a role in mood, which is why these drugs are mainly used to treat depression and other mood disorders. Examples of cyclic antidepressants include amoxapine, amitriptyline, doxepin, maprotiline, protriptyline, imipramine, desipramine and trimipramine. Unfortunately, these drugs may cause a number of side effects. These side effects include drowsiness, blurry vision, urinary retention, low sex drive, confusion, increased appetite, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, seizures, constipation, dizziness, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, weight gain and headache.
Levodopa serves as a precursor to dopamine, another chemical that affects mood and sleep. When someone takes Levodopa as a hypersomnia treatment, it results in increased levels of dopamine in the brain. Some people should not take this drug, as it can cause serious side effects. If you have had malignant melanoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, talk to your doctor before taking this drug. You should also tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, history of heart attack, liver disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, endocrine disorders, ulcers, wide-angle glaucoma or a psychiatric disorder such as depression.
Once you start taking Levodopa, it may be necessary to adjust the dosage based on your body’s response to the drug. The most common side effects of Levodopa include muscle twitches, dark urine, fatigue, hand tremors, nausea, constipation, vomiting, blurred vision, dry mouth, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety and confusion. This drug can also cause serious side effects such as irregular heartbeat, suicidal thoughts, depression, persistent nausea or vomiting, uncontrolled movements or fluttering in the chest. If you experience any of these side effects, contact your physician immediately.
Clonidine reduces the amount of adrenaline and other hormones released by the body. This drug is available in pill and patch form, making it one of the most convenient hypersomnia treatments. Before using clonidine, you should let your doctor know if you are taking any vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter drugs or prescription medications. You should also let your doctor know if you have a heart rhythm disorder, heart disease, history of stroke, history of heart attack, severe coronary artery disease or kidney disease to make sure it is safe for you to take clonidine. Scientists do not know if clonidine affects unborn babies, so talk to your doctor before becoming pregnant or breastfeeding. Some of the side effects of clonidine include dry mouth, blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, nervousness, tiredness, musle pain, sleep problems, joint pain, increased urinary frequency at night, decreased sex drive, constipation, burning eyes and muscle pain. Clonidine can also cause some serious side effects, so contact your physician immediately if you experience any of the following: swelling, very slow heart rate, pounding heartbeat, shortness of breath, confusion, pale skin, fever, hallucinations, numbness in the hands or feet or rapid weight gain.
When treating hypersomnia, some medical professionals turn to MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). MAO is an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters in the brain, which can affect sleep, mood, appetite and body temperature. MAO inhibitors inhibit the action of this enzyme so that neurotransmitter levels do not change as rapidly. These drugs work on dopamine levels, serotonin levels and norepinephrine levels. Common side effects of MAO inhibitors include nausea, dry mouth, insomnia, diarrhea, low blood pressure, weight gain, swelling, dizziness, muscle spasms, sexual dysfunction, confusion and weakness.
When selecting a treatment, hypersomnia sufferers may turn to bromocriptine. Bromocriptine affects hormone levels, so it can help those with hypersomnia get more sleep. Before taking this drug, you should tell your doctor if you have migraines, high blood pressure, history of heart attack, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, ulcers, mental illness, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver disease, heart disease or kidney disease. You should also let your doctor know if you are pregnant or if you want to become pregnant in the future. This drug can affect the effectiveness of hormonal birth control, so use another contraceptive method while taking bromocriptine. This treatment for hypersomnia causes a number of side effects. They include constipation, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach cramps, weakness, drowsiness, depression, difficulty sleeping, dizziness and headache. More serious side effects include fainting, numbness or tingling in the fingers, bloody vomit, black bowel movements, swelling of the extremities, severe headache, visual impairment, difficulty speaking, chest pain, shortness of breath, hallucinations and confusion.
Some changes in your routine can help you combat the effects of hypersomnia on your life. Consuming less caffeine is one of these changes. Caffeine can keep you up at night, leaving you tired and unable to function properly the next day. Reducing the amount of alcohol you consume can also help you fight hypersomnia. Alcohol use affects your sleep cycle and makes it difficult to get the right amount of rest at night. Better sleep hygiene may also be effective in treating this condition. Going to bed at the same time each night, getting the same number of hours of sleep each day, and using your bed only for sleep and sex can help alleviate the symptoms of some sleep disorders.
If you suffer from the symptoms of hypersomnia, ask your doctor which of these treatments might be right for you. Controlling your hypersomnia can help improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of complications.