World Sleep Day: Battling the Symptoms of Idiopathic Hypersomnia
World Sleep Day, an annual event, is a call to action by delegates from around the world to raise awareness about the many burdens of sleep problems and their prevention and management. This year WSD falls on Friday, March 17, 2017, and the slogan is “Sleep Soundly, Nurture Life.”
While this slogan aligns with many sleep disorders that are modifiable and manageable with the help of a sleep specialist encouraging good health, exercise and proper diet, there is unfortunately a class of central disorders of hypersomnolence (CDH), including idiopathic hypersomnia (IH), that is especially complex and more difficult to diagnose and treat.
On this World Sleep Day 2017, the Hypersomnia Foundation is working to raise awareness about IH, a chronic and often debilitating neurologic disorder, by releasing a summary of a recent review article about CDH. This summary is intended to make current research about these disorders more accessible to the public, and it is part of an ongoing series of journal article summaries provided by the Hypersomnia Foundation to increase awareness of IH and the related CDH.
In a society where feeling tired is the norm, it can be difficult to comprehend the devastating impact of a malady in part defined by excessive daytime sleepiness. For people with idiopathic hypersomnia, a full night’s slumber has no effect on easing the insatiable need to sleep. The associated severe sleep inertia and mental fogginess make it extremely difficult for people with IH to hold down jobs, remain in school, maintain marriages, and fully engage with their family and friends.
As one person with IH insightfully described it, “I am like a soldier on a daily mission; I fight to stay awake and alert, but I lose the battle and retreat to bed.” The Hypersomnia Foundation is working to help those with IH win more battles. Together, let’s get #beyondsleepy!
A Short Bio of the HF
The Hypersomnia Foundation, Inc. (HF), established in 2014 as a public nonprofit in the USA, received its IRS 501(c)3 determination letter that same year. As an all-volunteer organization, the HF uses 100% of donated funds to support its mission of improving the lives of people with idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) and related disorders by advocating on their behalf, providing support, educating the public and healthcare professionals, raising awareness, and funding research into effective treatments, better diagnostic tools, and, ultimately, cures for the debilitating conditions that comprise IH.
The reach of the HF is international, although the vast majority of our constituents are in the United States. Presently there is a serious unmet clinical need for people with hypersomnia (PWH). Not only are approved or even universally effective treatments not available, but lack of recognition that the symptoms of hypersomnia comprise a neurologic sleep disorder leads to a delay in diagnosis and years of needless suffering. As one prominent sleep researcher recently said, “People with hypersomnia are the most underserved population in the entire sleep community. They are veritable orphans, lacking even the most basic needs of recognition, let alone validated diagnostic tools and effective treatment.” The emotional, vocational and financial implications of the undiagnosed and untreated physical symptoms can have a disabling impact. The HF was established to address these issues.
HF core beliefs include the following:
• All PWH deserve full and proper diagnosis and treatment.
• Optimal diagnosis and treatment derive from better knowledge.
• All of the causes of hypersomnia can be discovered and properly treated.