Feeling sleepy all day is a common problem for many people. This sleepiness can be caused by various things, from insomnia to medication side effects. If you feel somnolent during the day, it can be challenging to stay productive and focused. In this blog post, we will look at some of the most common causes of somnolence and how to remedy them. We will also discuss ways to increase your energy levels so that you feel alert and awake all day long!

What is Medical Somnolence?

Sleepiness or somnolence is a state of strong drowsiness. It’s different from just being tired, which goes away after rest. Somnolence can make you feel so sleepy that it’s hard to stay awake and function during the day.

There are two types of somnolence: primary somnolence and medical somnolence. Primary somnolence is when another condition does not cause sleepiness. Medical somnolence happens when another condition causes you to be drowsy during the day.

How does Somnolence Happen?

A variety of things can cause somnolence, including medications, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions. Lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough sleep at night or working long hours without breaks, can also contribute to daytime sleepiness.

Some common causes of somnolence include:

  • Medications: Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause somnolence as a side effect. These include antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and more. If you are taking any medication, speak to your doctor about the possibility of somnolence before starting it.
  • Sleep disorders: Conditions like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome can all lead to somnolence during the day. If you have trouble sleeping at night, speak to your doctor about possible sleep disorders.

Does Sleep Apnea Cause Somnolence?

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common reason individuals struggle with somnolence during the day. Individuals with OSA have periods of time where they stop breathing while sleeping. These apnea episodes last more than 10 seconds each. Generally, the upper airway suffers a blockage due to tissues in the throat or mouth relaxing and blocking the airway.

Sleep apnea sufferers often snore loudly and remain clueless about their breathing trouble while sleeping. A sleep partner is often the first to notice loud snorts or gasps as their sleep partner struggles to breathe while sleeping. Extreme fatigue and overwhelming daytime sleepiness, or somnolence, result from the struggle to breathe the entire night.

Severe sleepiness during the day is often a red flag for a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Other health problems often also develop from the lack of sleep and oxygen while sleeping. Without treatment, sleep apnea sufferers often also struggle with high blood pressure, a higher chance of stroke, and impairment while driving.

Combat the Somnolence

If you are somnolent during the day, it is essential to find out what is causing this. Once you know what is causing your somnolence, you can start to look for ways to combat it. Some ideas for self-treating somnolence include:

  • Taking a nap during the day can help increase your energy levels and help you feel more alert.
  • Exercising: Exercise can help increase your energy levels and make you feel less sleepy during the day.
  • Adjusting your sleep schedule: If you are not getting enough sleep at night, somnolence during the day is more likely. Changing your sleep schedule can help you get the rest you need and feel more alert during the day.

You can also do a few things to increase your energy levels and combat somnolent feelings during the day, including eating healthy, nutritious foods. However, if you suffer from a medically recognized sleep disorder, healthy food will not “cure” your somnolence.

If somnolence affects your daily life, talking to a doctor about treatment options is essential. There are various ways to combat somnolence and increase your energy levels. With the proper treatment, you can sleep well and breathe well at night and feel alert and awake all day long!

Medical Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

If your daytime sleepiness results from struggling to breathe all night, there are medical devices, surgery, and mouthguards that may help, including:

  • Inspire: Inspire is a medical device implanted in a same-day procedure that helps you breathe well all night long without needing a CPAP. Inspire stimulates a nerve that moves your tissues out of the way of your breathing so that you breathe and sleep well all night long.
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): A CPAP machine uses air pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. The mask is connected to the machine with a tube and worn over your nose and mouth.
  • Adjustable Positive Airway Pressure (APAP): Like CPAP machines, APAP machines also use air pressure to keep your airway open. However, APAP machines have adjustable air pressure that your doctor can change based on your needs.
  • Surgery: There are various surgical options available to treat sleep apnea. These include Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Maxillomandibular advancement surgery (MMA), and more. Speak with your doctor to see if surgery may be an option for you.
  • Mouthguards: There are also mouthguards available that can help treat sleep apnea. These devices work by keeping your airway open while you sleep.

Somnolence during the day can harm your life, making it difficult to concentrate at work or school and enjoy your free time. If somnolence has a significant impact on your life, it’s crucial to find the cause of your somnolence and seek treatment if needed. With the proper treatment, you can feel alert and awake all day long!

We Can Help

At Enticare, our board-certified sleep specialists work with you using sleep studies to bring solutions to poor sleep. Whether you struggle with somnolence due to sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, we are here to help you find answers. We look forward to helping you sleep better and feel your best! Give us a call today to set up a consultation.



  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/somnolence
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