What should I do if I cannot stay awake no matter how much sleep I get?

This question was asked in Moultrie, Georgia on 10/19/2012.
I am always sleepy, no matter how much or when I sleep. I can't stay awake and drive. Whether watching T.V., working on the computer, just being around the house, I always fall asleep. I am taking Ambien CR now but am trying not to take it every night. I seem to rest better with it, but if I have to drive, I have to keep myself awake and sometimes have to pull over and take a nap. I have fallen asleep many times at my computer. I wake up not realizing I went to sleep. It has bothered me for a while, but has gotten worse in the past couple of years. I had a sleep study years ago, but never heard anything from it. I am under a lot of stress now and had a very stressful job for years. But I am at home taking care of a sick husband; back and forth to the doctors’ for sometimes 2-3 hour drives. Now I'm worried because for 9 weeks I have to drive him 5 days a week for treatment on a 1.5 hour drive one way.

Doctors Answers (3)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 10/29/2012

You may have a hypersomnia disorder and need further evaluation. Avoid driving long distances as you are a increased risk for MVA and serious injury. You should avoid sedating medicines and try and keep a regular sleep schedule. Consult a sleep specialist for an evaluation ASAP!

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 10/23/2012

You should definitely make an appointment to discuss this with a Board Certified Sleep Physician.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 10/23/2012

There are a number of possible reasons for your daytime sleepiness and optimally should be evaluated by a sleep specialist. Your daytime symptoms could indicate insufficient night time sleep because of insomnia or other disorders of sleep that could impair sleep quality. These disorders would cause you to be unrefreshed and wake feeling tired after 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours of sleep each night. There are also neurologic causes of daytime sleepiness. A complete sleep history would be important, including a sleep diary for 1 - 2 weeks. You may also need sleep testing both at night and during the day. I hope this helps.