Everyone feels sleepy at times. However, when sleepiness interferes with daily routines and activities or reduces the ability to function, it is called “problem sleepiness.” A person can be sleepy without realizing it. For example, a person may not feel sleepy during activities such as talking and listening to music at a party, but the same person can fall asleep while driving home afterward. You may have problem sleepiness if you:
- Consistenlty do not get enough sleep or get poor quality sleep
- Fall asleep while driving
- Struggle to stay awake when inactive such as when watching televison or reading
- Have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school or home.
- Have performance problems at work or school
- Are often told by others that you are sleepy
- Have difficulty remembering
- Have slowed responses
- Have difficulty controlling your emotions
- Must take naps on most days
What Causes Problem Sleepiness?
Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs.
Each day there are two periods when the body experiences a natural tendency toward sleepiness: during the late night hours (generally between midnight and 7 a.m.) and gain during the midafternoon (generally between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.). If people are awake during these times, they ahve a higher risk of falling asleep unintentionally, especially if they havent been getting enough sleep.
The amount of sleep needed each night varis among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Research has shown that when healthy adults are allowed to sleep unrestricted, the average time slept is 8 to 8.5 hours. Some people need more than that to avoid problem sleepiness; others need less.
If a person does not get enough sleep, even on one night, a “sleep debt” begins to build and increases until enough sleep is obtained. Problem sleepiness occurs as the debt accumulates. Many people do not get enough sleep during the work week and then sleep longer on the weekends or days off to reduce their sleep debt. If too much sleep has been lost, sleeping in on the weekend may not completely reverse the effects of not getting enough sleep during the work week.
What Can Help?
Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activites and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, moe sleep may be needed. A good approach is to gradually move to an earlier bed-time. For example, if an extra hour of sleep is needed, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and then keep the last bedtime. This method will increase the amount of time in bed without causing a sudden change in schedule. However, if work or family schedules do not permit the earlier bedtime, a 30 – to 6o minute daily nap may help.
A person with problem sleepiness is limited in reaching their full potential, let us help you find a solution. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.