Sleepiness or 'sleepy' is a condition when a person feels like sleeping. This condition usually occurs at night or sometimes during the day . Sleepiness is normal , but needs to be addressed if it occurs excessively , interferes with activities , or reduces productivity.  

Sleepiness generally appears due to  lack of sleep . Even though it looks simple, sleepiness can trigger various problems, such as interfering with achievement at school or productivity in the office, affecting emotions, or even causing accidents, both on the road and in the work environment.

Abnormal sleepiness can be a sign of a disease, such as  sleep apnea , narcolepsy , insomnia,  restless leg syndrome , depression,  anxiety disorder , or diabetes. This article will discuss sleepiness that is not normal.

Causes of Sleepiness

Sleepiness can be caused by several factors, such as lifestyle, mental disorders, illness, and use of certain drugs. Here is the explanation:

1. Lifestyle _

Some lifestyles that can trigger sleepiness during the day are:

Lack of sleep at night

A person can feel excessively 'sleepy' during the day if they do n't get enough sleep at night.

Eating patterns that interfere with sleep

Excessive  coffee consumption  can disrupt sleep at night thereby increasing drowsiness during the day. Spicy food and eating too much can also cause digestive disorders so that the night's sleep is disturbed.

Exercise time close to bedtime

After exercising, the body will feel fresher because the heart rate and blood pressure increase. That is why, exercising too close to bedtime can cause difficulty sleeping.

Often consume alcoholic beverages

Alcohol does have a drowsiness (sedation) effect. However, alcohol can disrupt the  rapid eye movement  (REM) cycle in the sleep cycle, thereby reducing sleep quality.

2. Mental disorders

Drowsiness can also be caused by mental disorders. People who experience stress , anxiety disorders, or  depression , may experience excessive sleepiness during the day.

3. Illness

Several  chronic diseases  can interfere with the quality of sleep at night, causing sufferers to be 'sleepy' during the day. These diseases include cancer  metabolic disorders , diabetes, or  hypothyroidism.

4. Side effects of drugs

Certain drugs can also cause drowsiness, such as anti-seizure drugs,  antidepressant drugs, allergy medications, antihypertensive drugs, heart disease medications, or asthma medications.

5. Sleep disorders

Excessive sleepiness of unknown cause can indicate sleep disturbances. These disturbances affect the quality of sleep at night so that sufferers are excessively sleepy during the day.

Sleep disorders that can affect sleep quality include  sleep apnea , narcolepsy, insomnia, sleepwalking disease , and  restless leg syndrome  (RLS).

Sleepiness Symptoms

Drowsiness can be said to be abnormal when it occurs repeatedly, for a long time, or without a definite cause. This abnormal sleepiness will be accompanied by other symptoms, such as slowed response,  often forgetting , often falling asleep in inappropriate situations, and difficulty controlling emotions.

On the other hand, abnormal sleepiness often causes the following:

  • The feeling of wanting to sleep continuously or often falling asleep during the day
  • Difficulty concentrating while studying, working or driving
  • Decreased performance at school or productivity at work
  • It's easy to fall asleep while watching TV or reading a book
  • Microsleep , which is a short sleep that occurs due to sleepiness

When to see a doctor

Abnormal sleepiness can be dangerous. Therefore, immediately consult a  doctor  if you experience the above symptoms. A person can feel 'sleepy' excessively during the day due  to sleep disturbances . It is recommended to see a doctor immediately if you feel symptoms of sleep disturbances, such as:

  • Often find it difficult to sleep
  • Often feel tired and 'sleepy' during the day.
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Snoring loudly during sleep or sometimes stopping to breathe

Apart from some of the symptoms above, you are also advised to see a doctor immediately if this excessive drowsiness appears after you take a new drug, experience a drug overdose, or experience a head injury.

Diagnosis of Sleepiness

First of all, the doctor will ask about sleep habits and duration, as well as how often the patient is sleepy during the day. To help with the examination, the doctor may ask the patient to record sleep habits for several days.

If the feeling of 'drowsiness' that the patient experiences is not normal, the doctor will carry out supporting examinations in the form of:

  • Blood test, to determine levels of sugar, electrolytes, and thyroid hormone in the blood
  • CT scan of the head, to detect disturbances in the brain that affect a person's sleep quality
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), to measure electrical activity in the brain
  • Polysomnography or sleep observation test, this test is carried out to observe the condition of the patient's blood pressure, brain waves, heart rate, and movements during sleep

Sleepiness Treatment

Treatment of drowsiness is done by addressing the cause. If this abnormal sleepiness is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, the doctor will advise the patient to change these living habits.

If you don't get enough sleep at night, your doctor will recommend going to bed earlier. If excessive sleepiness is caused by a mental disorder, the doctor will suggest  psychotherapy  and medication according to the mental disorder.

Meanwhile, if drowsiness occurs due to side effects of the drug, the doctor will change the type or dosage of the drug.

How to improve sleep quality

In addition to the treatment above, several efforts can be made so that the quality of sleep at night is maximized. That way, drowsiness that appears during the day can be reduced. These efforts include:

  • Create a more comfortable bed and bedroom atmosphere.
  • Give exercise time interval with sleep, at least 1−2 hours.
  • Don't sleep with the TV or cell phone on.
  • Arrange a schedule of daily activities so as not to disturb bedtime.
  • Limit consumption of caffeine and spicy foods close to bedtime.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages before bed.
  • Do relaxation techniques or meditation before bed

Sleepiness Complications

Excessive sleepiness, especially during the day, can cause the following complications:

  • Decreased performance and productivity
  • Risk  of traffic accidents and work accidents
  • Decreased cognitive function and memory
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Emotional disturbances that interfere with social relationships

Lack of sleep can also increase the risk of  stroke , diabetes, high blood pressure,  heart attack , and obesity.

Sleepiness Prevention

The main way to prevent excessive sleepiness is to improve sleep quality and practice  sleep hygiene , including:

  • Implement a regular sleep schedule every night
  • Do not consume caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, and do not smoke a few hours before going to bed
  • Make the bedroom as comfortable as possible and used only for sleeping
  • Limit  nap times to a maximum of 30 minutes
  • Exercise regularly every day, but not near bedtime
  • Manage stress and practice  relaxation techniques regularly
  • Maintain ideal body weight and lose weight if you are obese
  • Take medication and consult a doctor regularly if you suffer from a disease that causes  insomnia  or  sleep apnea
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