Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and Fatigue
There are many potential causes of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and Fatigue (EDS). EDS is characterized by a feeling of increased drowsiness during the daytime. A person with pure EDS has a desire to sleep often, and on a regular basis, over an extended period of time (typically for at least one month or longer). However, there are people who don’t experience the drowsiness/sleepiness component as much as the fatigue part. Fatigued people feel “tired all the time”.
The most common cause of EDS is not getting enough sleep at night. Most adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep. Each individual is different, but if you are not getting a sufficient amount of sleep, you are much more likely to have EDS.
The second most common cause of EDS is as a side effect of medications. Many common OTC medications can cause EDS, including antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl), nasal allergy medications, and cough/cold preparations. Further, prescription medications often have a side effect of either insomnia or EDS. So this is another area that may need to be discussed with your prescribing doctor. Finally, a glass of wine or a beer can also have sedative properties.
There are a number of medical disorders that can contribute to EDS, but the most common ones are directly related to sleep health. If an individual is not getting good quality sleep, even though the quantity may be just fine, then they are at increased risk of unrefreshing sleep and EDS. In cases like this, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor or specialist. If you want a more detailed evaluation of the problem, then a Sleep Health physician is a good resource. The Sleep Health physician can get a comprehensive history and examination, and they may also order tests to determine what the underlying problem(s) are.