Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: A Clinical Review

Kriti D. Gandhi, Meghna P. Mansukhani, Michael H. Silber, Bhanu Prakash Kolla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is a highly prevalent condition that is associated with significant morbidity. The causes of EDS are varied, and include inadequate sleep, sleep disordered breathing, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, and central disorders of hypersomnolence (narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, and Kleine-Levin syndrome). Additionally, EDS could represent a symptom of an underlying medical or psychiatric disorder. Assessment of EDS includes a thorough sleep, medical, and psychiatric history, targeted clinical examination, and appropriate use of actigraphy to measure sleep duration and sleep-wake patterns, polysomnography to assess for associated conditions such as sleep-related breathing disorders or other factors that might disrupt nighttime sleep, multiple sleep latency testing to ascertain objective sleepiness and diagnose central disorders of hypersomnolence, and measurement of cerebrospinal fluid hypocretin-1 concentration. Treatment of EDS secondary to central disorders of hypersomnolence is primarily pharmacologic with wakefulness-promoting agents such as modafinil, stimulants such as methylphenidate and amphetamines, and newer agents specifically designed to improve wakefulness; behavioral interventions can provide a useful adjunct to pharmacologic treatment. When excessive sleepiness is secondary to other conditions, the treatment should focus on targeting the primary disorder. This review discusses current epidemiology, provides guidance on clinical assessments and testing, and discusses the latest treatment options. For this review, we collated the latest evidence using the search terms excessive sleepiness, hypersomnia, hypersomnolence, treatment from PubMed and MEDLINE and the latest practice parameters from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1288-1301
Number of pages14
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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