There are people who fall asleep suddenly and regularly throughout the day. This could be caused by certain medications, but it could also be a result of a specific sleep disorder.
When your eyelids feel heavy and you find yourself yawning ten times every quarter of an hour, sleep is the only thing on your mind. This semi-drowsy state that precedes sleep is normal, and happens everyone every day. However, if it is the case that a person nods off several times a day, it is possible that they are suffering from what is called “excessive daytime sleepiness”.
A sleep doctor can diagnose this condition by asking the patient to lie down in a calm, dark room several times a day. Excessive daytime sleepiness affects between 9 and 28% of people, according to a 2017 study.
Falling asleep in less that five minutes and in the middle of the day could obviously be caused by a simple lack of sleep, built up over several days or weeks. However, excessive daytime sleepiness could be linked to taking too many sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medications. It is also possible that this sleepiness comes from an actual sleep disorder, such as sleep apnoea or even narcolepsy.
Remember that drowsiness is the main cause of deadly road accidents. It is impossible to fight against this state, which becomes progressively worse throughout a road journey, and is not always registered by the driver themselves. It is recommended that drivers take a break every two hours during long car journeys in order to reduce drowsiness.
In any case, if a person is prone to this type of daytime sleepiness, it is best to consult a doctor to see whether it is linked to a proven sleep disorder.