Narcolepsy Sleep Disorder: Why Does It Happen and How To Get Relief

Most sleep disorders have a tendency to begin in the most innocuous and unobtrusive way; take the ample of snoring – it seems such a harmless impediment to sleep that most snorers choose to ignore it. Before long it grows into another more serious form of sleep disorder that needs extra attention and more elaborate treatment.

Chronic sleepiness is another example of a type of sleep disorder that most decide to ignore. After all, one may always feel lazy or sleepy. Yet this feeling of excessively sleepy during the day can be the symptom of a serious health condition called narcolepsy sleep disorder.

When does excessive sleepiness turn into narcolepsy? When sleepiness results in sudden sleep attacks, putting you to sleep at any time of the day, no matter which activity you may have been doing at that time. This disorder is clearly one of the most disabling health conditions that can majorly impact almost every aspect of life – including personal and professional.

Basic information about the disorder

– The feeling of sleepiness one feels after a late night or after disturbed sleep is not the same as the kind of chronic sleepiness related to narcoleptic sleep disorder. Here the patient has several unannounced daytime sleep attacks as well as experiences disturbed sleep at night. The sleep attacks could mean the patient falling asleep at the most inappropriate places like the bath tub, etc.
– Originating mainly from neurological dysfunction, it happens when the brain is no longer able to monitor the normal sleep-wake cycles.
– The early signs start to show during teen years or even during early adulthood and can affect anyone at any age, including children. Usually it remains undetected and hence untreated for several years.
– By far an untreatable condition, the usual drugs attempt to alleviate the manifestations of the disorder only.

Learning the onset

The onset of narcolepsy is evident when you experience one or more of these four symptoms:
– One of the most identifiable signs is excessive daytime sleepiness. The sudden sleep attacks usually last for about half an hour. Extreme emotions like laughter, joy, sadness and excitement are considered to be common triggers.
– 75% of patients experience cataplexy attacks. this is sudden loss of muscle tone resulting in jaw dropping, weakening of knees, inability to hold on to any object, etc Extreme emotions could also trigger such attacks.
– When you experience hallucinations – or have vivid dreams or nightmares on waking up or during sleep.
– Sleep paralysis is the inability to move or talk just after you have woken up or while going to sleep.

Common Causes

While the exact source of narcolepsy are not yet known, some plausible causes are:
– Hypocretin deficiency
– Hereditary factors
– Dysfunction of central nervous system
– Brain injury/srokes/tumors

Medication used for treatment

Antidepressants and nerve stimulants are the usual narcolepsy drugs used. This includes prescribing amphetamines and methylphenidate group of drugs. The typical medication doctors prescribe to reduce the intensity and frequency of cataplexy attacks for better management of narcolepsy sleep disorder includes selective serotonin or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants and sodium oxybate.

Looking to find more details on what is narcolepsy? Visit Marc Macdonald’s site to get insight on the causes, symptoms, and possible treatment for narcolepsy.

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