This article discusses the central disorders of hypersomnolence, a group of disorders resulting in pathologic daytime sleepiness, particularly narcolepsy type 1 and narcolepsy type 2, idiopathic hypersomnia, and Kleine-Levin syndrome. Disease features, diagnostic testing, epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment are reviewed.
Increasing evidence implicates autoimmunity in narcolepsy type 1, including a strong association with human leukocyte antigen–DQB1*06:02, association with a polymorphism in the T-cell receptor alpha locus in genome-wide association, and the identification of autoreactive T cells in patients with this type of narcolepsy. In contrast, the cause or causes of narcolepsy type 2 and idiopathic hypersomnia are unknown. Multiple treatment options exist, including two medications approved for the treatment of narcolepsy by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019. These include solriamfetol, a dopamine- and norepinephrine-reuptake inhibitor, and pitolisant, an H3-inverse agonist/antagonist that increases histaminergic neurotransmission.
The central disorders of hypersomnolence all cause severe sleepiness but can be differentiated based on ancillary symptoms, diagnostic testing, and pathophysiology. It is important that these disorders are identified because multiple treatments are available to improve functioning and quality of life.