Patients with idiopathic hypersomnia never feel fully alert despite a normal or long sleep night. The spectrum of the symptoms is insufficiently studied. We interviewed 62 consecutive patients with idiopathic hypersomnia (with a mean sleep latency lower than 8 min or a sleep time longer than 11 h) and 50 healthy controls using a questionnaire on sleep, awakening, sleepiness, alertness and cognitive, psychological and functional problems during daily life conditions. Patients slept 3 h more on weekends, holidays and in the sleep unit than on working days. In the morning, the patients needed somebody to wake them, or to be stressed, while routine, light, alarm clocks and motivation were inefficient. Three-quarters of the patients did not feel refreshed after short naps. During the daytime, their alertness was modulated by the same external conditions as controls, but they felt more sedated in darkness, in a quiet environment, when listening to music or conversation. Being hyperactive helped them more than controls to resist sleepiness. They were more frequently evening-type and more alert in the evening than in the morning. The patients were able to focus only for 1 h (versus 4 h in the controls). They complained of attention and memory deficit. Half of them had problems regulating their body temperature and were near-sighted. Mental fatigability, dependence on other people for awakening them, and a reduced benefit from usually alerting conditions (except being hyperactive or stressed) seem to be more specific of the daily problems of patients with idiopathic hypersomnia than daytime sleepiness.
© 2010 European Sleep Research Society.