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What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological sleep disorder.Narcolepsy is a disorder of the nervous system marked by excessive daytime sleepiness even after having an adequate nighttime sleep, sleep which is uncontrollable.

Narcolepsy can occur in both men and women of any age. Narcolepsy can run in families.Narcolepsy symptoms are first noticed in young adults. Narcolepsy patients can fall quickly into a deep sleep and can also wake up suddenly.

During sleep narcolepsy, people even dream during their few seconds of sleep 

Who are at risk?

Narcolepsy can occur in both men and women of any age, it is more marked in teenagers.

What are the early signs of narcolepsy?

• Patients may fall asleep while watching TV, reading a book, driving, attending a meeting, or engaging in a conversation due to which patient become irritated or may complain of weak memory.

• Dullness and drowsiness

• Daytime naps several times in the day

• Awakening at night

• Hallucinations, intense and sometimes terrifying experiences that occur as the person is falling asleep, hallucinations may involve hearing, vision, touch, balance, or movement.

• Sleep paralysis: Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or talk that occurs during sleep-to-wake or wake-to-sleep transitions. Episodes of sleep paralysis may last seconds to minutes.

• Other complaints associated with narcolepsy are – double vision, blurred vision.

• Disturbed nocturnal sleep.

What causes narcolepsy?

• There can be a possibility that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder, the autoimmune reaction causes the loss of nerve cells in the brain in patients with narcolepsy.

• Caused by mental illness or psychological problems.

• Patient of narcolepsy can fall asleep anywhere and anytime; these attacks may last for a few seconds to an hour, the patient doesn’t remember the sleep event.

• Narcolepsy is related to the deep part of sleep is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

• Some scientists think that narcolepsy is caused by a lack of hypocretin which is a chemical in the brain regulating sleep.

A narcoleptic patient may also experience a state of cataplexy in which there are muscular weaknesses of the facial muscles, dropping of the jaw or head, weakness at the knees. Usually, speech is slurred and vision is impaired.

Cataplectic attacks may last from a few seconds to several minutes. . Cataplexy attack is usually triggered by strong emotional reactions such as laughter, excitement, surprise, or anger. In cataplexy, there can also be a state of collapse.

Can narcolepsy go away on its own?

It cannot be cured and does not go away. In most cases, symptoms can be controlled with medications, regularly scheduled naps, and good sleep habits.

Is narcolepsy caused by stress?

The exact cause is not known.Some experts think narcolepsy may be due to a deficiency in the production of a chemical called hypocretin by the brain. Other factors such as stress, exposure to toxins, and infection also may play a role. A gene mutation has been identified that causes low levels of hypocretin.

Can you cure narcolepsy?

• There is no known cure for narcolepsy.

• Lifestyle changes and emotional counseling may help you do better in work and social activities.

• Eating light or vegetarian meals during the day and avoiding heavy meals.

• Scheduling a brief nap (10 to 15 minutes) after meals.

• Discussing with teachers in school.

• Eating foods which are high in proteins and consuming lots of green vegetables have a calming effect.

How do you get tested for narcolepsy?

Other tests may include:



• Genetic testing to look for narcolepsy gene

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) to see how long it takes you to fall asleep during a daytime nap.The physician may note the -sleep history and will also observe the sleep patterns which is done through Multiple Sleep Latency test.

What are the complications?

Obesity – Narcoleptic patient tends to be overweight.

Narcolepsy affects both professional and personal life.

Narcolepsy affects the sexual life

Risk for accidents

For more information, you can visit NIH and NHS.


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