Drowsiness

Definition

Drowsiness refers to feeling more sleepy than normal during the day. People who are drowsy may fall asleep in when they do not want to or at times which can lead to safety concerns.

Alternative Names

Sleepiness - during the day; Hypersomnia; Somnolence

Considerations

Excessive daytime sleepiness (without a known cause) may be a sign of a sleep disorder.

Depression, anxiety, stress, and boredom can all contribute to excessive sleepiness. However, these conditions more often cause fatigue and apathy.

Causes

Drowsiness may be due to the following:

Home Care

You can relieve drowsiness by treating the cause of the problem. First, determine whether your drowsiness is due to depression, anxiety, boredom, or stress. If you are not sure, talk with your health care provider.

For drowsiness due to medicines, talk to your provider about switching or stopping your medicines. But, DO NOT stop taking or change your medicine without first talking to your provider.

Do not drive when drowsy.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will examine you to determine the cause of your drowsiness. You will be asked about your sleep patterns and health. Questions may include:

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment depends on the cause of your drowsiness.

References

Avidan AY. Sleep and its disorders. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 101.

Hirshkowitz M, Sharafkhaneh A. Evaluating sleepiness. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 169.

Mansukhani MP, Kolla BP, St.Louis EK, Morgenthaler TI. Sleep disorders. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2021. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2021:755-770.


Review Date: 7/14/2021
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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