Drowsiness

Other Names:Somnolence,Sleepiness – during the day; Hypersomnia;

Definition:
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.

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It is a state of near-sleep, a strong desire for sleep, or sleeping for unusually long periods (c.f. hypersomnia). It has two distinct meanings, referring both to the usual state preceding falling asleep, and the chronic condition referring to being in that state independent of a circadian rhythm. The disorder characterized by the latter condition is most commonly associated with users of prescription hypnotics, such as mirtazapine or zolpidem.

It is considered a lesser impairment of consciousness than stupor or coma.

Considerations:
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.

Hazards

Sleepiness can be dangerous when performing tasks that require constant concentration, such as driving a vehicle. When a person is sufficiently fatigued, he or she may experience microsleeps (loss of concentration).

Causes:

*Having to work excessive hours or varying shifts (nights, weekends)
*Medications (tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antihistamines)
*Medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism, hypercalcemia, and hyponatremia/hypernatremia)
*Self-imposed short sleep time
*Sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea syndrome and narcolepsy)

Home Care:
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:

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Contact your health care provider if:You think the cause of your drowsiness is from any of the above conditions.

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What to Expect at Your Office Visit: 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:

  • Sleep pattern
    • How well do you sleep?
    • How much do you sleep?
    • Do you snore?
    • Do you have episodes in which you do not breathe during sleep (sleep apnea)?
    • Do you fall asleep during the day when you are not intending to nap (such as when watching TV or reading)?
      • If so, do you awake feeling refreshed?
      • How often does this happen?
  • Emotional state
    • Are you depressed?
    • Are you anxious or feeling stressed?
    • Are you bored?
  • Other
    • What medications do you take?
    • What have you done to try to relieve the drowsiness?
    • How well did it work?
    • What other symptoms do you have?

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
*Blood tests (such as a CBC and blood differential, electrolytes, and thyroid hormone levels)
*CT scan of the head
*EEG
*Sleep studies
*Urine tests (such as a urinalysis)
*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.

Some Tips to get relief from Drowsiness:

Get more quality sleep. More likely than not, you need to catch more Zs. But how much is enough? “It differs from person to person, but for most of us it’s eight hours or more,” says biological psychologist David F. Dinges, Ph.D., associate professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. “We tend to devalue sleep by living with less. There is a cumulative sleep debt that develops from living that way, and the body will come to collect its due if we don’t pay it back.” If you’ve been depriving yourself of sleep, Dr. Dinges recommends getting at least one more hour of shut-eye every night to pay back your sleep debt. Once you’ve determined your optimal night’s sleep, get that same amount of sleep every night in the same time period. Depending on your sleep debt, it could take a day or two to repay.

Regular Exercise:Regular exercise is a must for the persons who has sleep disorder or drowsiness. Particularly Yoga exercise under the supervision of an expert will improve Drowsiness and keep one free from several diseases and physical unfitness.

Take naps. Napping is a great way to make up for lost sleep and to rejuvenate yourself when drowsiness hits, says Wilse B. Webb, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Up to 45 minutes in the early afternoon will do the job nicely. Naps are especially helpful to people who have narcolepsy.

Try a cup of java. “Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that can be very helpful,” says Philip R. Westbrook, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. One to two cups of coffee in the morning and then one cup at lunch is sufficient in a day. More than that could lead to a caffeine crash in the afternoon. That’s worse than the drowsiness you’re trying to reduce.

Keep active. “If you are in a low-demand situation like driving or reading, you can get drowsy,” says Dr. Webb. “By contrast, no one ever went to sleep playing tennis. Continuing to do active, busy things like walking and talking will interfere with the urge to sleep.”

Light up your life. Bright lights or a walk in the sunshine may erase some of your drowsiness, according to recent studies. Light may have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, resets your biological clock and suppresses the production of melatonin—a hormone thought to induce drowsiness.

Get the sensation. A hot shower, a cold breeze, loud rock music, physical contact or any stimulus that jars the senses can activate and increase your alertness, says Dr. Westbrook.

Review your medications. List every medication you’re currently taking—both prescription and over-the-counter—and show the list to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives that won’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003208.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somnolence
http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/16/58.cfm

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