I've been like this since high school. I took a two hour nap daily after I got home from school. When first seeing a physician my freshman year of college for depression and anxiety I had a full blood panel done indicating I was anemic as a result of super low iron levels. I've been taking iron for the past few years and that had a huge effect on my alertness. But yet I still found myself incredibly exhausted all the time.
Unfortunately this started to get dangerous. Last summer I started falling asleep at my desk. Annoying, but something that shouldn't be happening after an adequate amount of sleep. Then I started falling asleep while driving home from work. I thought I was just tired after a long 8 hours, but it was still terrifying to be wide awake and then all of a sudden not be able to control my eyelids.
I started seeking medical attention when I would fall asleep at the wheel during the middle of the day. Morning, noon, or afternoon, I could be driving along, awake as a squirrel, and next thing be seconds away from a collision. The scariest part was I couldn't see it coming and I couldn't stop it. If I was on the freeway, I'd have to get off on the next exit, pull into a parking lot, and walk around.
When I started having to drive parts around during the day for work, I can't tell you how I thought for sure my job was on the line and someone would call into my work and report my sudden haphazard driving. I already have terrible anxiety, and these situations would leave me in tears as soon as I was safe at my destination.
My regular physician referred me to a psychiatrist to get her opinion on my unusual sleepiness. She immediately referred me to a sleep clinic where I would have a sleep study done. Because it was almost a month before my study, and she was worried for my safety (thank god it wasn't just me being crazy!), she prescribed me stimulants to take twice a day.
After a few days, I noticed a night and day difference. I used to not be able to watch tv or read for more than thirty minutes because I would instantly pass out. If I enjoyed a glass of wine in the evening after dinner, I would be asleep within an hour, no matter what we were doing. I can't begin to explain all of the times I wanted to do more in my day but physically couldn't.
I had my sleep study about two weeks ago. I arrived at 9 PM at night and was hooked up to a bunch of wires and monitors (and yes I have some fantastic black mail pictures of myself). I was woken up at 6 AM the next day and had naps scheduled for the entire day. I had my first one around 9 AM. I had about thirty minutes to nap and I swear every time I didn't sleep. I was honestly irritated and wanted them to let me get in my two hour nap.
After an agonizing amount of days, I finally was able to consult with the doctor yesterday afternoon to hear my results. I sleep like a baby at night. My doctor thought for sure I had been sleep deprived for several days prior to the study. I informed her that anything less than 10 hours felt deprived to me. I guess that isn't the same opinion of doctors lol.
So my sleeping at night wasn't the problem. However, my nap study was very interesting. I fell asleep every single time within 5 minutes. Wow. The type of sleep I fell into and how fast I fell asleep definitely shows a sleep disorder. The doctor was unable to confirm if it was narcolepsy or not due to medication I was on that I was uncomfortable not taking while doing the study. But, if it isn't narcolepsy, the other disorder (that I totally forgot the name of and google can't seem to help) is very similar and they both use the same medication to treat. So the fantastic news is that this is treatable, but the not so great news is that this is something I will have for the rest of my life that may or may not get worse. My doctor said that I shouldn't be surprised if it gets worse in about five years. Normally the worst symptoms show up in the mid to late twenties.
Honestly, I am so relieved to know that this wasn't all in my head (well it kinda is lol). I am so happy to know I will be able to continue the medication my doctor had put me on before I could get my study done. I feel like a totally normal person finally. It is amazing to know all that you can do in a day when you aren't falling asleep.