What sleep disorder makes it hard to stay awake?

This question was asked in Los Angeles, California on 04/09/2012.
My son can't stay awake. How can I really tell what's wrong?

Doctors Answers (5)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 4/11/2012

Disorders of Hypersomnia where it is difficult to stay awake include Narcolepsy with and without cataplexy, Idiopathic Hypersomnia, Insufficient Sleep Syndrome and Physiologic (organic) Hypersomnia. Whether your son potentially has a disorder of this nature can only really be determined by a sleep specialist and extensive testing of nocturnal and daytime sleepiness.

Terry M. Himes, DO
Answered on: 4/11/2012

Good Afternoon. The sleep disorder I believe your referring to is (1) "Insomnia." If I might suggest going to our website where we have information posted regarding all the sleep disorders. Additionally, I believe you are referring to ( 2) "Narcolepsy." Both types of disorder can be read about at our website on the sleep disorder pages.

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 4/10/2012

Depending on the age of your son, there can be multiple reasons for it to be hard to wake him up or for him to stay awake. When I see patients in the sleep clinic who complain of excessive sleepiness, my job is to figure out what could be the underlying problem affecting their sleep and daytime alertness. Some common sleep disorders that cause excessive daytime sleepiness include sleep apnea, circadian clock disturbances, irregular sleep-wake schedule, narcolepsy, hypersomnia, medicine use, previous injuries, or other medical problems. It is always best to see a sleep physician to help figure out by taking a detailed sleep and medical history and coming up with the best treatment plan.

Marjorie Yong, M.D.
Answered on: 4/10/2012

Difficulty with staying awake may be associated with a condition called Narcolepsy. A MLST (multi-latency sleep test) may help to determine the cause of his inability to stay awake during daytime hours.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/10/2012

Multiple sleep disorders can "make it hard to stay awake." A few of them include: 1. Narcolepsy 2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea 3. Sleep Deprivation (including shift work) 4. Restless Legs Syndrome 5. Medications. The first four listed cause interrupted sleep and secondary daytime sleepiness. Even narcolepsy patients have poor sleep, although the daytime sleepiness is considered secondary to the absence of a neurotransmitter which promotes wakefulness. Review any medications or drugs taken (especially including over the counter medications). Consult a physician who may wish to order a sleep study to assess the cause of the sleepiness.