What should I do if I can never get enough sleep?

This question was asked in Dublin, Virginia on 10/24/2012.
No matter how much sleep I get I can't stay awake during the day, even at work. I almost fell asleep at work while walking across the floor. I get very sleepy while driving to the point I know it’s dangerous. What can I do? I've been to my family doctor and even changed doctors, and all they tell me is to lose weight. I know I'm overweight but not as much as I was in the past. I feel like I can no longer work and I'm scared to drive my kids to school. What is wrong with me?

Doctors Answers (3)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 10/29/2012

You need to be referred to a sleep specialist for evaluation and treatment of a potential sleep disorder like Obstructive or Central Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome and idiopathic hypersomnia. A check up with your current physician to assess any physical problems is recommended as well.

Anil Mattoo, MD
Answered on: 10/25/2012

Have you every had a sleep study? The symptoms that you describe are indicative of Obstructive Sleep Apnea which can only be accurately diagnosed by having a sleep study. We have sleep labs on Long Island and would be able to arrange this for you. Following your sleep study, you will be seen by a board-certified sleep physician who will recommend if you do, in fact have OSA, and what the recommended treatment would be.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 10/25/2012

You may have what we call "non restorative sleep". You state that regardless of the amount of sleep you get you can't stay awake during the day. This suggests that you are not getting "good" sleep or you are suffering from narcolepsy. 6 hours of good sleep is better than 10 hours of bad sleep. Good sleep is not fragmented and includes an adequate amount of restorative Stage N3 (deep) sleep and Stage REM sleep. Narcoleptic patients often have fragmented sleep but are often missing a neurotransmitter which keeps us awake. There is a condition we call "Idiopathic Hypersomnia" which mimics narcolepsy and often responds to similar treatments. Idiopathic means that we don't know the cause and Hypersomnia means you are sleepy. You need a sleep study and most likely a stimulant to promote daytime alertness for quality of your life and for your safety and the safety of others. Losing weight is good for everyone and for many conditions but will not likely help your problem.