An overwhelming need to lie down: Possible causes, effects, and management strategies

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Medically reviewed by
Julie Dodson
Updated January 27, 2024
by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Occasional drowsiness during the day may be considered a natural part of life, particularly after a heavy meal, in certain temperatures, or when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. However, in some cases, feeling extreme fatigue during the day may be worth examining in more detail, particularly if it’s something that occurs regularly. This could indicate that you may have hypersomnia, which usually involves excessive sleepiness during the day and can be caused by a variety of conditions. Managing hypersomnia may require the assistance of a doctor, as well as practicing good sleep hygiene, exercising regularly, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol later in the day. You may also benefit from working with an online or in-person therapist to manage symptoms of hypersomnia.

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What it means to feel an overwhelming need to lie down
Feeling overly sleepy during the day is sometimes referred to as hypersomnia, or excessive daytime sleepiness. Hypersomnia tends to be more than occasional drowsiness, or sleep inertia, which can cause feelings of grogginess immediately after waking up from sleep.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “If you have hypersomnia, you might fall asleep repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times such as at work or during a meal.” Other symptoms of hypersomnia may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Slowed thinking or speech
Irritation or agitation
Lethargy
Trouble concentrating or remembering things
Mood swings

Those with hypersomnia may find that napping during the day does not relieve these symptoms.
Hypersomnia: Possible causes and effects
A variety of factors may contribute to hypersomnia, ranging from certain sleep disorders to other mental or physical health conditions, which may present with additional symptoms. Possible causes of excessive daytime sleepiness may include:
Sleep apnea
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Narcolepsy
Depression
Bipolar disorder
Insomnia or sleep deprivation
Another underlying medical condition
Those with hypersomnia may notice that the condition has an impact on their quality of life and ability to complete day-to-day tasks. This may pose challenges, particularly if the condition leads to potentially dangerous situations (for instance, causing someone to fall asleep while driving).
Healthy sleep has been correlated with positive overall health and well-being. It can contribute to maintaining a healthy immune system, being able to concentrate at work, and responding to challenges in healthy and objective ways. It can be important to take steps to manage hypersomnia in order to improve well-being and overall quality of life.
Managing an overwhelming need to lie down
Knowing what to do when you’re experiencing overwhelming fatigue may be challenging, particularly if you don’t know what’s causing you to feel tired. It may be worth keeping in mind that management strategies often vary from person to person, depending on their circumstances and the root cause of their sleepiness.
That said, a variety of available methods may be helpful first steps for tackling sleep challenges.

Consulting a doctor
If you have concerns about the effects hypersomnia is having on your daily life or well-being, it may be advisable to contact a medical professional, such as a sleep medicine doctor, in order to rule out any underlying medical causes related to your symptoms. A doctor may be able to identify possible contributing factors and advise you on the next steps, such as medication, a sleep study, or other forms of treatment. Never start or stop any form of medication unless instructed to do so by a licensed medical professional.

Practicing good sleep hygiene
A variety of sleep hygiene practices may be helpful for getting a good night’s sleep. You might consider putting electronics away 30 minutes to an hour before bed, turning the lights off ahead of time, reading a book before you go to sleep, or aiming to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

Avoiding caffeine later in the day
Caffeine, as well as alcohol, may make it more challenging to get restful sleep. By limiting your intake of these substances later in the day and before bed, you may be able to achieve a better night of sleep and experience less drowsiness during the day.

Getting regular exercise
According to a 2022 study, physical exercise may be helpful for reducing symptoms in people with insomnia. You might consider finding ways to work exercise into your daily routine, whether by going to the gym, attending fitness classes, or taking brisk walks, all of which may contribute to relaxation and improved sleep quality.

Attending therapy sessions
For those in need of extra support in managing daytime sleepiness, therapy may also be a valuable resource. A licensed therapist may be able to identify and address any underlying mental health conditions that could be contributing to hypersomnia, provide a safe space to discuss your emotions around the condition, and offer advice on managing related challenges.

Benefits of online therapy
For individuals with hypersomnia, attending therapy in person may not always be feasible, particularly for those who might fall asleep while driving or whose daytime sleepiness may make it challenging to leave the house. In these cases, online therapy may be a helpful alternative. It may empower you to attend therapy sessions from the comfort of home, without having to commute to a therapist’s office.

Effectiveness of online therapy
Online therapy has been studied as a viable treatment for a variety of sleep-related disorders, including hypersomnia. A 2022 study, for example, found that online cognitive behavioral therapy usually led to improvements in depressive symptoms and self-efficacy among people with hypersomnia.

Takeaway
If you consistently feel an overwhelming need to lie down during the day, you may have hypersomnia, a condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness that may not be helped by napping. Other symptoms of hypersomnia can include trouble concentrating, lethargy, and irritability, among others. Hypersomnia may be connected to a variety of possible causes, ranging from sleep disorders to certain mental and physical health conditions. Should you find that hypersomnia is affecting your quality of life, you might consider contacting a doctor, in addition to practicing good sleep hygiene, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, getting physical exercise, or trying therapy. Online therapy may be a particularly beneficial option for those with hypersomnia due to its accessibility and convenience.**


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