- Hypersomnia, including narcolepsy, which are disorders of excessive daytime sleepiness and prolonged, unrefreshing nighttime sleep.
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS), which in some cases is accompanied by periodic leg movements during sleep. The individual may not be aware of these movements unless told by a bedpartner.
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which are disorders of the timing of sleep. For example, an individual may naturally be a “night owl” who cannot sleep until late; unfortunately, they also have difficulty waking up at the desired early time for school or work.
- Other individuals have disorders such as sleepwalking, nightmares, or unusual movements during sleep as if they were acting out their dreams.
The severity of all of these disorders can also be determined through standardized scales, at-home actigraphy, an overnight sleep study, or a 24-hour sleep study.
Care at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Hypersomnia disorders and narcolepsy are treated with alertness and stimulant medications. It is recommended that these treatments are followed by a sleep physician. These patients also benefit from behavioral sleep medicine (BSM) treatments which aim to improve coping strategies and better manage their conditions.
There are effective treatments for restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movements, such as dopaminergic and other types of medications.
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders and nightmares can also be effectively treated with BSM treatments. Bright light therapy is the evidence-based treatment for most circadian rhythm sleep disorders; it requires a comprehensive assessment by a sleep doctor and changes in behavior and lifestyle. Timed-melatonin can also be used to treat circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Nightmares can be effectively treated with imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) as well as with sleep or antihypertensive medications.
Most patients with sleepwalking or who act out their dreams may require an overnight sleep study. Many receive medications to manage their symptoms.
Locations where we treat condition:
Penn State Sleep Research and Treatment Center
1214 Research Blvd., Suite 1159
Hummelstown, PA 17036
Schedule an Appointment: 717-531-8520
Departments that treat condition: Penn State Sleep Research and Treatment Center, a joint service of Pulmonary Medicine and Psychiatry
Research & Clinical Trials
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To see all clinical trials and learn how to volunteer, visit StudyFinder.
Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook
- Falling asleep during the day unintentionally; sleeping too much at night
- Difficulty falling asleep at the desired time, early or late
- Urge to move your legs and relieve them from unusual sensations
- Distressing dreams; acting-out or talking; walking or eating while asleep
- Daytime fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety, worry
- Depressed mood
Most of these sleep disorders are diagnosed based on a patient’s clinical history, report of sleep problems and physical examination. A comprehensive assessment is completed using standardized patient-reported scales. In most cases, an overnight sleep study or a 24-hour sleep study may be required. In some cases, an actigraphy, a wristwatch-like device that allows clinicians to assess movement and sleep at home, may be used.
Outlook & Prognosis
There are non-drug based as well as medication treatments that can effectively treat the nighttime sleep and daytime fatigue and sleepiness in individuals with disorders such as hypersomnia, narcolepsy, circadian rhythms or movement disorders. These sleep disorders require a comprehensive assessment and close follow-up by a sleep specialist.