Clinical considerations in the treatment of idiopathic hypersomnia

Michael J. Thorpy, Lois Krahn, Chad Ruoff, Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Idiopathic hypersomnia typically is a chronic and potentially debilitating neurologic sleep disorder, and is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, idiopathic hypersomnia symptoms can include severe sleep inertia; long, unrefreshing naps; long sleep time; and cognitive dysfunction. Patients with idiopathic hypersomnia may experience a significant impact on their quality of life, work or school performance, earnings, employment, and overall health. Given the complex range of symptoms associated with idiopathic hypersomnia and the array of treatments available, there is a need to provide guidance on the treatment of idiopathic hypersomnia and the clinically relevant recommendations that enhance effective disease management. Identifying appropriate treatment options for idiopathic hypersomnia requires timely and accurate diagnosis, consideration of individual patient factors, and frequent reassessment of symptom severity. In 2021, low-sodium oxybate was the first treatment to receive approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of idiopathic hypersomnia in adults. However, many off-label treatments continue to be used. Adjunct nonpharmacologic therapies, including good sleep hygiene, patient education and counseling, and use of support groups, should be recognized and recommended when appropriate. This narrative review describes optimal treatment strategies that take into account patient-specific factors, as well as the unique characteristics of each medication and the evolution of a patient's response to treatment. Perspectives on appropriate symptom measurement and management, and potential future therapies, are also offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-498
Number of pages11
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 2024


  • Hypersomnolence
  • Idiopathic hypersomnia
  • Low-sodium oxybate
  • Management
  • Medications
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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