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:
  • Lack Of Sleep
  • Progesterone Excess
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Metal Toxicity
  • Hypersomnolence
  • Magnesium Toxicity

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:
significant diesel exhaust exposure
magnesium-based antacid use
major difficulty waking up
reduced mental clarity
taking high dose progesterone
frequent racing thoughts
on normal dose oral progesterone
depression with some fatigue
exposure to old building materials
severe vision disturbances
tossing and turning at night
past aluminum-based antacid use
... 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
Magnesium Toxicity 92% Confirm
Sleep Apnea 65% Possible
Lack Of Sleep 21% Unlikely
Progesterone Excess 4% Ruled out
Hypersomnolence 2% Ruled out
Metal Toxicity 0% 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:
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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