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  • Uncontrollably Sleepy

    Hey guys. It used to be everyday, but has been better lately, but some days (like today) while sitting at my desk at work, I get very, very sleepy and cannot keep my eyes open. It often happens (ironically) after I take a short walk outside and occurs regardless of whether I ate lunch or not. It usually lasts for 15 minutes or more. I've had this issue for a while I guess. I've slept in class at school since high school at least, and once after an all-nighter I fell asleep while in a professor's office with two other group members, sitting not 5 feet from the professor, haha. Is this normal or should I be at all concerned? Thanks in advance

  • #2
    Search the forum for threads on "sleep apnea". Or just googole it and see if you can relate to the symptomatic information.
    “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creeds into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”
    —Robert A. Heinlein

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    • #3
      i think this is sort of normal. energy levels can easily drop during the afternoon. i'm a big fan of seizing that opportunity and taking a quick nap. of course, that's not generally advisable at work. this could certainly be because you're not getting enough sleep at night (i had insomnia in college, and i once fell asleep in class while talking), so napping might help you. you might also try changing things up a bit. if you usually eat and take a walk, take the walk first. or you could try standing up at work for the afternoon, and see if that changes things.
      http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread60178.html

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      • #4
        One very common medical problem that can definitely cause your symptoms is obstructive sleep apnea. Most people who have it don't know it. Is is frequently undiagnosed or underdiagnosed by physicians.

        Basically, what happens if you have obstructive sleep apnea is this. When you fall asleep at night and begin to settle into a deep sleep, your airway relaxes and closes off. As you try to suck air through the closed off airway, it tends to just close off tighter. Those of us who are old enough to remember paper drinking straws have observed something like this - the straw would get soggy and soft on the end and the harder you would suck on it, the tighter it would close.

        So with no air coming through, you wake up briefly and use muscle control to open up the airway. But you don't know that you awakened, it is so brief. It is called a micro-arousal. In the morning, you believe that you slept most or all the night. But in truth, you may have had dozens or even hundreds of microarousals. And you never really get to fall into a deep relaxing REM sleep, because the micro-arousals keep pulling you out of it.

        Needless to say, this makes for fatigue during the day. And some who have suffered for a while tend to fall asleep at the least opportune times, at work, at school, maybe even at a long stop light in a car in extreme cases.

        It is extremely important to get checked out by a knowledgeable physician who is alert to the possibility of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) if you have these symptoms. The physician should either prescribe a sleep study where you go into a sleep center and are evaluated, or should send you home with a monitoring device, a recording pulse oximeter, for an overnight screening in your home. If one physician is not open to this, another or yet another needs to be consulted.

        Severe obstructive sleep apnea has a 40% eight year mortality rate according to a Mayo Clinic review. Very serious. And yet the sufferer's death certificate will almost never read "obstructive sleep apnea" but will read something like "cardiac arrest." OSA causes a number of types of cardiovascular problems, liver problems, heightens diabetes risk, makes it hard to lose weight and easy to gain, and causes fatigue, depression and sometimes headaches.

        It is very treatable through several different treatment options. But the first step is to get tested. Most people who snore significantly have some degree of OSA.
        Last edited by Paleo Man; 08-12-2010, 01:01 PM.

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        • #5
          Try a liquid fat bomb. A sweet potato might work, too, since you get nice and slow complex carb release.

          Download f.lux, and use exclusively red lightbulbs after sundown, so that electronics aren't interfering with your sleep.

          Also, make sure your sleep habits are as consistent and nourishing as possible. I can be pretty hazy for a few days after an inordinately late night.
          “The whole concept of a macronutrient, like that of a calorie, is determining our language game in such a way that the conversation is not making sense." - Dr. Kurt Harris

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          • #6
            Thanks for all the suggestions guys (I'm guessing from avatars and screen names that you're all guys). I'm fairly sure I don't have sleep apnea as I don't snore (that I've been told of, haha) am not overweight, and am fairly young (24). I currently use f.lux, but don't have red lights to use at night, although I might try that.

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            • #7
              I think sleepiness around midday is normal. 'Uncontrollably' is a little concerning, but i don't know what to recommend other than checking that you are consuming adequate calories. Maybe just take in more calories and see if it matters. Maybe some stimulant like tea?

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              • #8
                Lots of folks with narcolepsy can go through much of their life not realizing they have it. Sleep apnea would be unusual in high school, though not impossible. Have you ever experienced any of the following symptoms?

                1. cataplexy - sudden loss of muscle tone when getting excited or upset (i.e. - you fall down or feel kind of weak when you laugh or get angry)

                2. sleep paralysis - you wake up from sleep and can't move your limbs. Usually lasts a few seconds up to a minute or two

                3. sleep onset or awakening hallucinations - either when drifting off to sleep or when just waking up you see things in your room that aren't there (i.e. - you hallucinate).

                If yes to any of these, then narcolepsy is highest on the list of possibilities. If no, then chances are close to nil.
                sigpic

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by yodiewan View Post
                  Thanks for all the suggestions guys (I'm guessing from avatars and screen names that you're all guys). I'm fairly sure I don't have sleep apnea as I don't snore (that I've been told of, haha) am not overweight, and am fairly young (24). I currently use f.lux, but don't have red lights to use at night, although I might try that.
                  While those characterisitcs often indicate sleep apnea, you don't have to snore or be overweight or be old to have sleep apnea or to have some less severe form of sleep disordered breathing issue. Often it is a morphological issue of the throat. People with small or receeded lower jaw or large tongue or enlarged tonsils or adenoids or large uvula or large upper soft palate or enlarged thyroid can each/all contribute to restricted airflow. Never hurts to just get breifly checked out by an ENT specialist. Or just go to your primary care doc and ask to get an oximeter rental for a week or two if the sleepiness does not go away.
                  “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creeds into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”
                  —Robert A. Heinlein

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                  • #10
                    jturk and Asturian have great observations. OSA is so extremely prevalent and underdiagnosed that it always comes to mind when daytime sleepiness is an issue, but it is quite a bit less likely in a younger person who is not overweight and who apparently does not snore, though still always a differential worthy of some consideration if other possibilities are eliminated.

                    Wikipedia has some good info on differentials and self assessments for excessive daytime sleepiness, EDS . . .

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excessi...ime_sleepiness

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                    • #11
                      you should get your doctor to check your iron and/or B12 levels. Sleepiness can be one sign.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks again to everyone for the advice and suggestions. I'm due for a checkup soon anyway, so I will mention the tests to the doctor.

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                        • #13
                          Sleep apnea is worth looking into as Paleo Man mentioned. Do you have symptoms?

                          I'd really push for more investigation into this. There are other more serious issues that could be involved as well. Though it's hard to have an issue more serious than sleep apnea...



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                          • #14
                            I had exactly the symptoms you're describing from mid-high school on. In fact, I remember that I had only three calc classes in college that I did *not* fall asleep in, and those weren't the exams - I fell asleep in exams, too! I took NoDose to no effect, so I quit those. When I started working, I'd have to get out of my car and do jumping jacks to keep from falling asleep. I got in the habit of reading or putting on makeup while driving b/c I figured it was safer than falling asleep while moving the car. I fell asleep at work every morning and afternoon and even *during* conversations with coworkers!

                            I had a sleep study done and couldn't fall asleep at all during the day portion. :/ So they diagnosed nothing. The neurologist couldn't figure it out, so he prescribed Cylert (which he described as a more intense version of Ritalin), but I refused to take it, since it meant weaning my 6 month old daughter.

                            I never had the hallucinations of narcolepsy, but I did have 2 or 3 times where I couldn't move on waking, and I don't know what this means, but I would dream ALL the time. Even if I dozed off for just seconds in class, not even enough for my head to drop, I would be dreaming. Any time I woke during the night, or was woken by something else, I would realize I had been dreaming.

                            I finally figured out *my* issue - I wasn't getting enough sleep. Duh. I thought I could sleep 7-7.5hrs a night and that would be enough - after all, it was way more than most people! But not me. When I was pregnant with my second child, I gave myself permission to sleep as much as I needed, and it was usually 8hrs or more, but when I did, the constant morning headaches and all day sleepiness went away. The problem simply disappeared. I learned I had to make that a priority in my life.

                            Why didn't the neurologist suggest that? I guess he figured 7-7.5hrs/night was enough, too.

                            With my next pregnancy, I started needing 9hrs a night to feel good, so I did that, but when that continued past the fourth baby, I was getting desperate! It wasn't until I got rid of sugar in my life that my sleep need tapered back to 8hrs, and there have been times when I could get by with 7.5 and feel good. Since chucking sugar, I've noticed that I feel infinitely better in the morning, everything from morning mouth to headaches are truly gone the vast majority of the time. Even after getting 8+hrs/night, but before quitting sugar & grains, I couldn't drive for more than 30m in the afternoon or night, and not more than an hour any time, b/c I just got too sleepy. Interestingly, that is no longer really a problem.

                            Unfortunately, I'm going through more sleep issues again, as I've started to have what I think must be OSA. It's not making me tired, but there are a few times a week where I can tell I just stopped breathing for a second. I'm not obese, and have never had this problem before. It only happens when I sleep on my back, I think, so I just avoid that, if I remember to.

                            Some personal case history in case any of it strikes a chord of familiarity for ya.
                            5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
                            Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
                            Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
                            Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
                            ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***

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                            • #15
                              I used to fall asleep easily after lunch. Once fell asleep in a one-one-one meeting! Since angioplasty and stenting of my coronary arteries that doesn't happen any more so I'm guessing I was affected by the blockages - ischemia. At your age this shouldn't be a problem but if you're getting a checkup its definitely worth discussing your problem with your doctor
                              Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

                              Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine

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