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This information was reviewed and approved by Sheila Tsai, MD

Common causes of excessive sleepiness and ways to manage them include:

  • Chronic Lack of Sleep: This is one of the most common causes of excessive sleepiness. It is important to get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep each night will help you maintain normal alertness and performance while awake. Review the chart below to see how much sleep is generally recommended. Keep in mind some people need more and some less nightly sleep.
  • Interruptions to Sleep: A person may allow plenty of time for sleep, but sleep time can be interrupted by sleep apnea, periodic limb movements pets and children.

  • Body Clock Disturbances: This can include shift work or jet lag. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are disturbances of your internal clock's rhythm and may be managed with light therapy and slow adjustments to your sleep schedule. Try keeping the same schedule every day. Medications and natural supplements such as melatonin may help this.

  • Medications/Sedating Medicines: Some medications may cause sleepiness as a side effect. Talk to your doctor about whether any of your medications could cause sleepiness. He or she may be able to find an alternative medication that is just as effective but less sedating.

  • Other Conditions: Narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia are a couple of other disorders associated with sleepiness. Narcolepsy occurs when there is a problem with the part of the brain that controls sleep and wakefulness. It may be managed with medication and scheduled naps. Idiopathic hypersomnia may be improved by ensuring an adequate amount of nightly sleep and a regular sleep-wake schedule, and with medication.


Daily Sleep Recommendations

A child’s sleeping habits and number of hours needed for sleep each night can vary depending on where the child is at in the stages of development. Some general pediatric sleep guidelines for amount of sleep needed for children by age range include the following:

  • Children 0 to 3 months of age need 14 to 17 hours

  • Children 4 to 12 months of age need 12 to 16 hours

  • Children 1 to 2 years of age need 11 to 14 hours

  • Children 3 to 5 years of age need 10 to 13 hours

  • Children 6 to 12 years of age need 9 to 12 hours

  • Children 13 to 18 years of age need 8 to 10 hours

  • For adults, 7-8 hours of sleep are generally recommended.


Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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