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Getting Serious about Excessive Sleepiness

      Sleepiness is a very common patient complaint and is more widespread than previously thought, affecting as many as 20% - 30% of U.S. adults. Disorders of excessive sleepiness of central origin such as idiopathic hypersomnia and narcolepsy are much less prevalent but not uncommon. I suspect historical prevalence data underestimate the number of patients affected. Sadly, way too many patients with sleepiness do not discuss symptoms with their physician or do not recognize sleepiness as the cause of their fatigue, neurocognitive impairment, mood changes or even fatigue related accidents. The strong circadian drive for wakefulness supports daytime function and often disguises functional impairment. In other words, the patient can get by but is not normal. We have personal, family, community, and work obligations that siphon off our necessary hours of quality sleep. Living life constantly in a daze and suffering the attendant co-morbidities should not be the norm in our society, and yet it is. We need to put this issue on our radar and use the latest in sleep science to address it.
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