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Idiopathic Hypersomnia - Sleeping 10+ hours 

Introduction
Idiopathic hypersomnia is a serious sleep disorder.  People with idiopathic hypersomnia sleep for long periods during the night, may nap during the day, and still feel excessively sleepy no matter how much they sleep.  The cause of idiopathic hypersomnia is unknown.  It appears to be a lifelong condition.  Symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia are treated with medication and lifestyle changes to increase alertness.

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Anatomy
Sleep is vital for life, just like eating and breathing.  Sleep allows your body to rest.  It is believed that during sleep your brain performs important functions, such as storing memory and processing brain chemicals. 

In a way, your body goes on “auto-pilot” while you sleep.  Your brain regulates automatic functions for you, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.  The average adult needs about eight hours of healthy sleep.  Although sleep is a complex process that is not fully understood, it is known that a good night’s sleep is important for optimal health and functioning.

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Causes
The exact cause of idiopathic hypersomnia is unknown.  Researchers suspect that a genetic link may be possible because it appears to run in families, but there is no proof of this.  It seems to be a rather uncommon type of sleep disorder.  The condition usually develops slowly before the age of 30.  In the vast majority of cases, idiopathic hypersomnia is a lifelong condition.

Idiopathic hypersomnia causes people to sleep a long time during the night.  People may sleep more than 10 hours a night.  Despite such long periods of sleep, people with idiopathic hypersomnia feel very sleepy during the day.  No matter how much they nap during the day, they still feel very sleepy.  This condition can be very disabling, limiting a person’s ability to maintain employment, relationships, and quality of life.

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Symptoms
The main symptom of idiopathic hypersomnia is prolonged sleeping at night.  You may sleep 10 hours or more on a regular basis.  Despite sleeping so long at night, you feel very sleepy during the day.  You may take numerous naps but still feel sleepy after the nap.  Upon awakening, you may not feel alert.  You may feel confused or still asleep.  You may have difficulty maintaining employment, relationships, and responsibilities because of excessive daytime sleepiness.

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Diagnosis
You should contact your doctor if you regularly sleep for more than 10 hours and experience significant daytime sleepiness that interferes with your daily routine.  Your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a physical examination.  Samples of your blood and urine may be tested to rule out other conditions or sleep disorders that have similar symptoms. 

You may be referred to other specialists, such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, or sleep medicine doctor.  A clinical sleep study may be conducted to learn more about how your body functions while you sleep.  A Multiple Sleep Latency Test evaluates how long it takes you to fall asleep for daytime naps and is a measure of daytime sleepiness.  A polysomnogram is used to identify a variety of sleep disorders.  This test measures your heart rate, airflow, breathing movements, brain waves, and body movements.  It is helpful for identifying a variety of sleep problems.

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Treatment
Treatment for idiopathic hypersomnia involves prescription medication, lifestyle changes, and treating underlying medical conditions or sleep disorders that may compound the symptoms.  Stimulant medications to increase alertness have been found to be the most effective form of treatment.  It can be helpful to maintain a regular sleep schedule and avoid alcohol.  It can be helpful to have regular naptimes built into your daily schedule.

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Prevention
Because the cause of idiopathic hypersomnia is unknown, it is not known how to prevent the condition from occurring.  If you suspect that you have idiopathic hypersomnia, you should contact your doctor and follow your doctor’s treatment plan.  Your doctor can help identify safety precautions for your lifestyle to help prevent injury during your daily activities.

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Am I at Risk
Because the exact cause of idiopathic hypersomnia is unknown, specific risk factors have not been identified.  The condition appears to run in families.  You should contact your doctor if you sleep more than 10 hours during the night and feel excessively sleepy during the day.

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Complications
Idiopathic hypersomnia can be a very debilitating condition.  It can interfere with employment pursuits, relationships, and daily activities.  Daytime sleepiness can be dangerous.  You should not drive or operate machinery when you feel tired.

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Advancements
A recent study of patients with idiopathic hypersomnia showed that the excessive sleepiness was controlled with medication in two-thirds of the patients and that the condition spontaneously resolved in 11% of the patients over a 4-year period. 

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.