Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University of Gottingen, Gottingen, Germany.
Up to 12% of the general population experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), with increasing prevalence in the elderly.
EDS may lead to cognitive impairment, resulting in inattentiveness, poor memory, mood disorders and an increased risk of accidents.
As a result, quality of life is reduced in most patients with EDS as well as in their caregiving spouses.
There are a variety of causes leading to EDS, including CNS pathology, neurological dysfunction, associated sleep disorders with insufficient or fragmented sleep, and drug therapy.
Since EDS accompanies many neurological disorders, such as neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases, neurologists should be familiar with the diagnosis, its major causes and with treatment options.
The main focus of this article is on movement disorders, neuromuscular diseases, multiple sclerosis, dementia, cerebrovascular diseases, head and brain trauma, pain and epilepsy.
General managment strategies for EDS in all these neurological diseases include sleep hygiene aspects such as extensions of noctural time in bed and frequent naps during the day.
Pharmacological treatment is generally achieved with stimulants such as amphetamine, methylphenidate and pemoline, or newer compounds such as modafinil.