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Insufficient Sleep Syndrome

What is insufficient sleep syndrome?

Insufficient sleep syndrome, also called behaviorally induced insufficient sleep syndrome, is a form of hypersomnia that involves voluntary restriction of nighttime sleep. It’s called behaviorally induced sleep restriction because a person chooses to forgo sleep in favor of other activities like work, texting friends, playing video games or watching TV. Insufficient sleep syndrome is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness and can trigger health problems associated with not sleeping enough, including fatigue, mood changes, and weight gain.

Symptoms of insufficient sleep syndrome include:

· Regularly sleeping for less than 6-8 hours per night
· Mood and behavior changes
· Excessive daytime sleepiness
· Lack of focus and concentration
· Memory problems

Over time, long term effects of lack of sleep include depression, metabolic changes, and in extreme cases, even death

What causes insufficient sleep syndrome?

Insufficient sleep syndrome has no known cause and is not connected to another sleep disorder or health condition. People who work long hours or work night shifts may be more susceptible to insufficient sleep syndrome. It affects more men than women and occurs most often in teens and young adults; research shows that up to 10 percent of teens may have insufficient sleep syndrome.


Before diagnosing insufficient sleep syndrome, a physician will rule out other health conditions that might cause excessive sleepiness, like narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia or another form of hypersomnia, sleep apnea, or shift work disorder.

An overnight sleep study, or polysomnogram, may be performed to chart your brain, lung and heart activity overnight. Your doctor may also request a multiple sleep latency test, or a sleep study during a daytime nap, to evaluate your sleep patterns during a shorter period of sleep.


Treating insufficient sleep syndrome involves improving sleep habits, known as sleep hygiene, to allow enough time to sleep at night. Your bedtime will be adjusted to enable you to sleep for around eight hours each night.

Treatment may also include changing environmental and behavioral factors that contribute to restricted nighttime sleep, like sleeping with electronics in your bedroom and watching TV late at night. When patients follow treatment recommendations for insufficient sleep syndrome, symptoms often improve or resolve quickly.

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