Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Sleep has a huge impact on our everyday lives. Yet, our State of Sleep in America study found that 1 in 3 adults describe their sleep the previous night as “fair” or “poor.”
Poor sleep or lack of sleep can make you feel drowsy and miserable during the day. However, the problem can be even worse for those with excessive daytime sleepiness.
If you suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness or daytime fatigue, tiredness and lack of energy during work, school, or other activities it can seriously affect your day-to-day life.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between daytime fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness, as well as the symptoms and causes of both. We’ll also share tips on getting better sleep and when to see a sleep specialist for help.
Fatigue is a continuous feeling of exhaustion that, according to Mayo Clinic, reduces your concentration, motivation, and energy. It can impact not only your body but also your emotional well-being.
As a Cleveland Clinic article explains, fatigue is different from just feeling sleepy. While sleepiness is usually a short-term thing that you can improve with more sleep, fatigue can last a long time and make you feel drained to the point where it disrupts your everyday life.
According to Medical News Today, below are some common symptoms of fatigue. Note that these are just a few, and this isn’t an all-encompassing list. Speak to a medical professional for more information.
There are many different causes of fatigue. Lifestyle factors, like a lack of exercise or little to no sleep, can be culprits. Certain medications can also contribute to daytime fatigue. However, fatigue can also be a symptom of other underlying medical conditions.
Here are several possible causes of daytime fatigue (note: that this isn’t an exhaustive list):
Fatigue can also be a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome, which is long-term, overwhelming fatigue that does not improve with rest. It can last for months or years and negatively affects your quality of life. There is no known cause for chronic fatigue syndrome yet, but you can treat symptoms with the help of a physician.
There are several things you can do to try to help reduce daytime fatigue:
If your efforts to reduce fatigue aren’t working, it’s a good idea to pay a visit to your doctor.
Many people experiencing low energy levels may wonder if they’re going through fatigue or excessive daytime sleepiness. So, what is excessive daytime sleepiness, and what’s the difference?
Mayo Clinic explains that Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) can be a symptom of multiple conditions. People with EDS find it difficult to stay awake and feel sleepy during the daytime. They are often drowsy and may even fall asleep at inappropriate times. Sleepiness can be stronger when sitting down or doing a repetitive task.
EDS can be a symptom of hypersomnia, which is a condition that makes a person feel very tired during the day, even if they get what should be enough sleep.
Fatigue, on the other hand, has to do with a lack of energy and sometimes feeling unable to fall asleep despite being tired. It can be physical and/or mental.
However, it is possible to experience sleepiness and fatigue at the same time.
EDS affects 10–20% of people and should be taken very seriously. It can increase the dangers of falls, road and workplace accidents, problems with mood and relationships, and decreased productivity and performance. Drowsy driving caused an estimated 91,000 police-reported crashes in 2017 alone — so constant drowsiness during the day can be a big safety concern.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is commonly caused by a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep. This may be due to:
EDS can get in the way of work, school, and home life. If a lack of sleep causes your EDS, you can keep the following sleep tips in mind to try to improve your nightly rest:
However, if excessive daytime sleepiness is significantly impacting your life and the above tips aren’t working, you should visit your doctor.
Sleepiness or fatigue can warrant a doctor’s visit. You should schedule an appointment with your doctor if you feel like sleepiness or fatigue is having a negative impact on your everyday life, especially since there’s a chance they could indicate an underlying condition.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend better sleep hygiene practices, prescribe medication, or help you pin down an underlying cause.
They may also refer you to a sleep specialist to diagnose your condition and come up with a treatment plan. If your sleepiness or fatigue is caused by a sleep disorder like narcolepsy or sleep apnea, it’s especially important to work with an expert to get proper treatment.
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