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Idiopathic Hypersomnia

What is idiopathic hypersomnia?

Idiopathic hypersomnia causes excessive daytime sleepiness, regardless of how much a person sleeps. An individual with idiopathic hypersomnia may sleep or feel incredibly sleepy for long periods during the day, despite getting adequate sleep at night.

Idiopathic hypersomnia is a type of hypersomnia in which the excessive sleepiness is not connected to another known cause, like a medication or another disorder. Like narcolepsy and other forms of hypersomnia, idiopathic hypersomnia severely impacts job performance and may even be considered a disability.

Symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia include:

Sleeping for more than 10-11 hours in a 24-hour period
Difficulty awakening in the morning
Trouble transition between sleep and wakefulness
Feeling groggy and disoriented when waking up
Prolonged periods of excessive tiredness during the day

What causes idiopathic hypersomnia?

Idiopathic hypersomnia is a neurological disorder with no known cause. In people with idiopathic hypersomnia, the mechanism or “switch” controlling the sleep-wake transition does not function properly. This makes it difficult to transition out of a sleep state into wakefulness.


Because idiopathic hypersomnia is defined as hypersomnia with no known cause, your doctor will compile a thorough health history to rule out other causes of excessive sleepiness. Medications, personal sleep habits, and other health conditions can cause symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia. A sleep diary may be used to chart sleep patterns. Your doctor may look for a pattern of excessive sleep that lasts at least three months when diagnosing idiopathic hypersomnia.


There is no cure for idiopathic hypersomnia, and no single medication or group of medications widely used to treat the disorder. Because narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia share some of the same characteristics, certain medicines used for narcolepsy may be helpful in treating idiopathic hypersomnia. These medicines include stimulants such as dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate and non-stimulants like modafinil. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also help people with idiopathic hypersomnia.

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