Daytime Sleepiness: how much is too much?
The urgent need to fall asleep during daytime can be an expected result for some of us after a bad night's sleep. Your lifestyle, poor sleep habits, as well as your mental and physical health can also cause daytime sleepiness.
Whilst many wouldn't be concerned with this occasional feeling, it can be an indicator of a sleep disorder and that medical help is needed. According to the Sleep Foundation, excessive daytime sleepiness is not a condition in itself; instead, it is a symptom caused by an underlying problem.
Daytime sleepiness is one of the common symptoms for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that occurs when the airway in the throat collapses during sleep reducing airfow or completely blocking the airway. This disrupts sleep and reduces oxygen supply to vital organs. Other symptoms for sleep apnea are loud snoring, early morning headaches, poor concentration, fatigue and having a restless sleep.¹
Feeling sleepy for days in a row, without being able to work out why, can be a warning sign. Another indication that your daytime sleepiness might be related to a sleep disorder is being able to fall asleep at times and places where you should stay awake, like during a conversation.²
It's important that you don't ignore your warning signs and seek medical help to understand what is causing your daytime sleepiness, specially if you drive a car or operate heavy machinery.