Everyone feels a little sleepy at times, but if you're finding that being tired interferes with your daily activities or reduces your ability to function, it's called problem sleepiness.
Signs you may suffer from problem sleepiness:
-You consistently don't get enough sleep, or the sleep you get is poor quality sleep.
-You struggle to stay awake when inactive, like when you're watching tv or reading.
-You find it difficult to pay attention at work, school or home.
-You have performance problems at work or school.
-You have difficulty remembering.
-You have slowed responses.
-You have difficulty controlling emotions.
-You take naps most days.
Causes of problem sleepiness:
-Chronic illnesses like asthma, congestive heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other chronically painful disorder.
-Some medications to treat high blood pressure, some heart medications and asthma medications.
-Alcohol can make you want to fall asleep, but it will often cause sleep disruption during the night, which can lead to problem sleepiness during the day.
-Caffeine consumed in soft drinks, tea, coffee or medications makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Caffeine stays in the body 3 to 7 hours, so even when taken earlier in the day it an cause problems with sleep at night.
-Nicotine is a stimulant and makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
-Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome and insomnia can cause problem sleepiness.
-Shift Workers often suffer from problem sleepiness because they go against the body's natural sleep-wake system designed to prepare the mind and body for sleep at night and wakefulness during the day. It's possible that the body never completely adjusts to nighttime activity and daytime sleep, even for those working permanent night shifts.
What you can do:
The best thing you can do is allow yourself more time for sleep. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep you're actually getting. If you're consistently getting less than 8 hours a night, more sleep may be needed. Gradually going to bed earlier, even in 15 minute increments for a few days in a row can help you change your routine. In general, medications don't help problem sleepiness, in fact, some make them worse. Cutting out caffeine and alcohol can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.