What Causes Drowsiness?

Drowsiness can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose drowsiness, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "drowsiness" as a symptom.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Magnesium Toxicity
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Metal Toxicity
  • Lack Of Sleep
  • Progesterone Excess
  • Hypersomnolence

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
diarrhea for 1-3 months
major joint pain/swelling/stiffness
sleeping less than necessary
having trouble concentrating
difficulty getting out of bed
depression with some fatigue
past aluminum-based antacid use
occasional racing thoughts
short-term memory failure
somewhat disturbed sleep
low diastolic blood pressure
... and more than 40 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of drowsiness:
Cause Probability Status
Lack Of Sleep 95% Confirm
Magnesium Toxicity 52% Possible
Sleep Apnea 19% Unlikely
Hypersomnolence 5% Ruled out
Metal Toxicity 5% Ruled out
Progesterone Excess 5% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Sleep-Related Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about drowsiness:
General drowsiness. Roughly how often do you find yourself falling asleep in situations such as boring meetings, watching TV or while driving? Do not include drowsiness that occurs 1-3 hours after eating a meal.
Possible responses:
→ Never / rarely / only after a meal / don't know
→ Once a month or less
→ Once a week or less
→ A few times per week
→ At least daily
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate occasional drowsiness, regular drowsiness or frequent drowsiness, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Magnesium Toxicity

Sleepiness is a sign of magnesium overload.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Some patients suffering from OSA fall asleep in a nonstimulating environment, such as while reading something uninteresting or in a quiet room.  Others may fall asleep in a stimulating environment, such as during business meetings, while eating, and even while having sex.

So-called "drowsy driver syndrome", which some believe is responsible for many automobile accidents, may result from OSA.  Drivers may fall asleep at the wheel or suffer from a lack of alertness because of sleep deprivation.  Decreased alertness places the person at risk in a variety of potentially hazardous situations.

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