Tired of being tired? Here’s what you need to know
(BPT) - It’s no surprise that we all feel the need to get more sleep. However, for some people who feel tired all the time, it may be a sign of a bigger problem. If the urge to sleep during the day is overwhelming and irresistible, it may be excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).
Roughly 20 percent of Americans have EDS. It is one of the most common complaints people make to a sleep specialist and a symptom that can be seen in a variety of sleep disorders. Being able to recognize the difference between normal sleepiness and EDS is important to your health, but more than 60 percent of Americans find it difficult to do, according to a new survey of 3,000 people conducted by Jazz Pharmaceuticals.
“Occasionally feeling tired is normal,” says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, pulmonary and sleep specialist at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. “People with EDS have a hard time staying awake or alert during the day and may doze off during inappropriate times such as during meals, in the middle of a conversation or even when in a car stopped for a few minutes in traffic.”
EDS is a hallmark symptom of narcolepsy. Not everyone who has EDS has narcolepsy, but everyone who has narcolepsy has EDS. Narcolepsy affects approximately 1 in 2,000 Americans. It is a chronic neurological disorder in which the brain can’t control sleep-wake cycles normally. A narcolepsy diagnosis can be tricky because many disorders, such as depression, insomnia and sleep apnea, have some of the same symptoms. This may be why it is estimated that half of those with narcolepsy are undiagnosed.
Narcolepsy has five major symptoms, but you don’t need to experience them all to have it.
1. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: This is when you have an uncontrollable urge to sleep during the day.
2. Cataplexy: The weakening of muscles when you feel strong emotions like embarrassment, laughter, surprise or anger. Cataplexy can cause your head to drop, your face to droop, your jaw to weaken or make your knees give way.
3. Sleep disruption: This is when you often fall asleep quickly but wake up frequently throughout the night.
4. Sleep paralysis: Feeling unable to move or speak for a short time when falling asleep or waking up. You may also feel like you can’t breathe deeply.
5. Vivid dreaming: Often frightening dreamlike experiences that seem real and happen when falling asleep or waking up. You may experience hearing sounds or words when drifting to sleep or have unwanted visions. Sleep paralysis often accompanies these vivid dreams.
The survey also revealed that a majority of Americans don’t feel they know enough about sleep disorders. Less than 50 percent report being familiar with narcolepsy and only 70 percent report being familiar with sleep apnea. Approximately 60 percent of Americans said that they find it difficult to know when they need to talk to a doctor about daytime sleepiness.
Dasgupta adds, “If you’re having trouble staying awake during the day or experiencing other sleep-related problems, it may be time to talk to your doctor.”
To learn more about narcolepsy, take the Narcolepsy Symptom Screener or to find a sleep specialist near you, visit MoreThanTired.com.
This content is provided by Jazz Pharmaceuticals.