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Why Is My Brain Confused About Sleep?

by Stephanie
(Lincoln, NE)

I am a 40-year-old female diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia 3 years ago.

I don't understand how I can technically be asleep but still remain standing, participate in conversations, work and drive.

How do I get my brain to understand that the entire body needs to be asleep?


Kevin's Thoughts

Dear Stephanie,

Can you explain a little more about your condition and how it affects you? What I know of idiopathic hypersomnia is that it involves sleeping very excessively but does not usually involve sudden instances of falling asleep, like narcolepsy does. You say you are asleep while standing, talking, working, and even driving. Can you elaborate a little more about what these experiences are like for you?

Feel free to do so using the "Post Comments" link just below.


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Aug 27, 2010
by: Stephanie


Thank you for replying to my question. To elaborate a bit, hypersomnia without long sleep means I sleep very little at night and have excessive daytime somnnolence.

Like narcolepsy, I can fall asleep at any moment without warning. I guess they would be called micro-sleeps.

My neurologist diagnosed my sleep disorder after a 3-day video EEG to test for epilepsy.

According to the EEG, I am technically asleep, but I can still participate in conversations, continue to type, continue to drive, continue to sit up and freak out the nurse by having my eyes open while under anesthesia.

My sleep disorder has now developed into sleep walking and sleep eating parasomnias. I just can't figure out why my brain is confused about sleep.

After trying approximately 20 different drugs to get me to sleep and stay asleep, I am now being referred to the Minnesota Sleep Disorder Center. I'm not confident they will provide anything beyond a huge bill, an anti-depressant script (every doctor's favorite response) and a sleep hygiene brochure.

So, I'm doing my own research to try and find some answers.


Aug 29, 2010
by: Kevin

Thanks for elaborating Stephanie. Micro-sleeps brought on by extreme sleep deprivation can be a very frustrating and hard to avoid thing (and dangerous if they are occurring in high-risk situations, such as driving). I wish I could provide some more useful information for you on your "brain's confusion about sleep", but nothing is coming to mind from my experience. I'll think on it and let you know if anything does end up coming to mind. In the meantime, please do let me know if you end up finding out anything significant on your end, whether from your research or the sleep center if you decide to go (and may your doctor be an insightful risk taker rather than someone who just plays it safe and tells you what you've already heard a million times!). I'd be very interested to know.

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