Narcolepsy is a neurological disease or dysfunction that impacts the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any activity at any time of the day.
In a regular sleep cycle, we first enter the early stages of sleep followed by deeper sleep stages and ultimately (after about 90 minutes) rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. For people suffering from narcolepsy, REM sleep transpires almost instantly in the sleep cycle, as well as rhythmically during the waking hours. It is in REM sleep that we can encounter dreams and muscle paralysis — which describes some of the symptoms of narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy often starts between your ages of 15 and 25. Nonetheless, it can be obvious at all ages. Often, narcolepsy is undiscovered and, therefore, untreated.
What Can Cause Narcolepsy?
The reason for narcolepsy isn’t known; but, most scientists and researchers have made progress toward pinpointing genes that form the disorder. These genes control the production of chemical compounds within the mind that will signal rest and awake cycles. Some experts think narcolepsy may be due to a deficiency in the generation of a chemical called hypocretin by the brain. Also, researchers have identified abnormalities in various parts of the brain involved in regulating REM sleep. These abnormalities possibly contribute to symptom development. According to specialists, it is likely narcolepsy affects multiple factors that interact to cause neurological dysfunction and REM sleep disturbances.
Excessive sleepiness that is daytime (EDS): generally speaking, EDS interferes with normal activities on a daily basis, whether or perhaps not someone with narcolepsy features a sufficient rest through the night. People who have EDS report mental cloudiness, too little energy and concentration, memory lapses, a depressed mood, and fatigue that is extreme.
Cataplexy: This symptom includes a loss that is sudden of tone that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle mass control. It may cause symptoms ranging from slurred speech to human anatomy that is total, concerning the muscles involved, and is frequently brought about by intense feelings such as shock, laughter, or anger.
Hallucinations: often, these experiences being delusional vivid and sometimes frightening. The information is mainly visual, but any of the other sensory faculties can be involved. These are called hypnagogic hallucinations when rest that is accompanying and hypnopompic hallucinations once they occur during awakening.
Rest paralysis: This symptom involves the inability that is short-term move or speaks while falling asleep or getting up. These episodes are brief, lasting a few seconds to minutes being a few. After episodes end, individuals rapidly recover their ability that is full of and speaks.
How Is Narcolepsy Diagnosed?
A physical exam and exhaustive medical history are essential for the proper diagnosis of narcolepsy. However, none of the primary symptoms is exclusive to narcolepsy. Several specialized tests, which can be implemented in a sleep disorders clinic or sleep lab, usually are needed before a diagnosis can be established. Two tests that are considered essential in confirming a diagnosis of narcolepsy are the polysomnogram (PSG) and the multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT).
The PSG is a test implemented during the night that takes constant multiple measurements while a patient is sleeping to document irregularities in the sleep cycle. A PSG can help explain whether REM sleep occurs at irregular times in the sleep cycle and can exclude the possibility that an individual’s indications result from the different condition.
The MSLT is performed in the day to measure an individual’s propensity to drift off and also to determine whether remote elements of REM sleep intrude at improper times through the hours being waking. An individual is expected to take four to five short naps usually planned a couple of hours aside within the test.
Exactly How Is Narcolepsy Treated?
The absolute most disabling outward indications of the disorder (EDS and apparent symptoms of abnormal REM sleep, such as cataplexy) is generally managed in most people who have medications although there isn’t any cure for narcolepsy. Sleepiness is treated with amphetamine-like stimulants, while the symptoms of abnormal REM sleep are treated with antidepressant drugs.
There has been a medication that is brand new for individuals who suffer from narcolepsy with cataplexy. This medication, called Xyrem, helps people with narcolepsy get a better night’s sleep, permitting them to be less sleepy during the day. Patients with narcolepsy could be considerably assisted — yet not healed — by medical treatment.
Lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and heavy dishes, regulating sleep schedules, scheduling daytime naps (10-15 moments in length), and developing a normal exercise and dinner routine may also help to cut back signs.