why am I always sleepy?
You know these days when you're not productive at all and all you want to do is sleep, we've all been there. Feeling sleepy all day is also known as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). That is, you can't resist the urge of laying in bed and swimming in dreams in times you're not supposed to. In fact, this all starts when you keep yawning, have teary eyes, and feel heavy eyelids. You can't dent the fact that the inability to stay awake can negatively impact your quality of life. Whether it's daily activities, school or work performance, relationships, or basically driving, feeling drowsy impairs all those.
The most common causes of being always sleepy are sleep deprivation, or medical conditions such as mental health disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, narcolepsy and others.
In brief, You can improve your health, productivity, and mood by working with a doctor to determine excessive daytime sleepiness's cause and improve sleep quality and quantity.
What is excessive daytime sleepiness?
In short, having excessive daytime sleepiness affects your ability to be awake or active during times when you need it the most. While fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness might hit you at the same time, they are totally distinct. As a matter of fact, EDS can cause hormonal instability, increase in weight and more chronic pain. This only makes sense because a high quality sleep results in releasing numerous growth hormones and performing many crucial processes, such as repairing and regenerating cells. Unlike the bad consequences of having lack of sleep, Sleep makes people wake up feeling fresh, active, and full of energy.
According to The Sleep in America Poll for 2022, Americans are looking at screens around bedtime rather than getting bright light exposure during the day. They are also failing to exercise according to recommendations and eating at inconsistent times. Similarly, 50% of Americans experienced EDS 3 to 7 times every week in 2020.
Causes of excessive daytime sleepiness:
- Voluntarily staying up late night: Without doubt, who hasn't spent the night watching a movie or a series, or playing games. Add to that waking up very early to exercise or go the gym. Consequently, you feel drowsy the following day which complicates how easy your duties are. Notably, such decrease in night sleep hours over time results in insufficient sleep syndrome which is life threatening.
- Bad sleep environment: The local environment, such as the type of home and neighborhood, can affect a person's ability to sleep well. To illustrate, noise, light, cars movement or traffic, pollution, and walkability equally cause sleep disorders in adults and children.
- Uncomfortable pillow or/and mattress: Frankly speaking, sleep can be difficult to reach because of an old mattress or a pillow that doesn't provide the suitable amount of support. Moreover, you might get nose congestion and difficulty breathing, in short allergy, due to accumulating dust in your pillows.
- Sleep apnea: This is a sleep-relate breathing disorder where breathing stops and comes back. Therefore, sleep apnea causes sleep disruption that leads to day drowsiness all through the day.
- Insomnia: The most common sleep disorder in the United States is insomnia, which affects 1/3 of the population. Many causes are behind insomnia making it hard to initiate, maintain or obtain quality sleep.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Mostly occurring in the nighttime, this condition makes you feel the urge to move the legs to cease an irritating sensation.
- Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders: In this case, either the ability to fall asleep is lost, or walking up midsleep is inevitable, or the inability to fall back asleep after waking up very early is avoided.
- Nocturia: Frequently needing to urinate at night, definitely disrupts your sleep. Besides, approximately one out of every three old adults and one out of every five young people suffer from nighttime urination.
- Being in pain: This applies to all pains the person can experience, from arthritis to an infection pains.
These medications can cause drowsiness during the day:
- Pain killers
- Anti-histamine drugs
The majority of such patients suffer from excessive day sleepiness.
- Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD)
- General anxiety disorder
- Parkinson's disease
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- abnormal blood sodium levels
- Electrolyte imbalances
How to get rid of excessive daytime sleepiness?
Depending on the EDS specific cause or contributing factor, each person's treatment will be different. In addition, it's not up to you to rule out a cause and apply it's treatment, but your doctor can. In short, if the cause is sleep deprivation, insomnia can be treated by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia (CBTi) and sleep apnea can be alleviated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Moreover, lifestyle changes "Sleep hygiene" such as limiting daytime naps and avoiding late night meals or excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption after dinner can help. Meanwhile, if the underlying cause of excessive daytime sleepiness if a medical condition or a health problem, then your doctor can will fix the root cause and helps you overcome being sleepy all day.
-Sleep foundation "Medical and Brain Conditions That Cause Excessive Sleepiness" https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/medical-and-brain-conditions-cause-excessive-sleepiness
-Baptist health "Insufficient sleep syndrome" https://www.baptisthealth.com/services/sleep-center/types-of-sleep-disorders/insufficient-sleep-syndrome
-Very well health "Reasons for Feeling Sleepy All the Time" https://www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-why-you-feel-sleepy-3014818
-Johnson DA, Billings ME, Hale L. Environmental Determinants of Insufficient Sleep and Sleep Disorders: Implications for Population Health. Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2018;5(2):61-69. doi:10.1007/s40471-018-0139-y https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6033330/
-CNET "How to tell if your mattress and pillows are ruining your sleep" https://www.cnet.com/health/sleep/the-wrong-mattress-and-pillows-can-sabotage-your-sleep/
-Featured image credits: https://www.freepik.com/photos/snooze
-Cleveland Clinic "Circadian rhythm disorder" https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12115-circadian-rhythm-disorders