What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is the extreme and uncontrollable desire to fall asleep during the day. It is a neurological disorder that specifically affects the control of sleep. Signs of narcolepsy commonly appear between the ages of 15 and 25. However, narcolepsy can also become apparent during any stage of life. Narcolepsy is a very extreme condition, a step above simply not sleeping well.  There are a variety of symptoms that will cause attention to the fact that you may have narcolepsy.

Symptoms

  • Hypnagogic Hallucinations – This is when a person has vivid visions immediately after waking up or during the very beginning stages of sleep.
  • Cataplexy – When experiencing this symptom, loss of voluntary muscle and a feeling of weakness will be present. This usually is brought on by intense emotion that ranges from anger to laughter and results in the body collapsing or experiencing slurred speech.
  • Extreme Daytime Sleepiness – It will be hard to fight off sleep when experiencing this system. Those who suffer with narcolepsy will feel extreme exhaustion, depression and mental cloudiness.
  • Sleep Paralysis – This symptom is one of the scariest to experience. Upon falling asleep or in the process of waking up the body will not be able to move. This symptom usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes.

Causes

  • Hereditary Genes – Scientists have discovered that the genes responsible for controlling the chemicals in the brain that directly affect sleep cycles can cause narcolepsy.
  • Brain Abnormalities – REM sleep can be disturbed by brain abnormalities causing symptoms to appear.
  • Autoimmune Disorder – Researchers have found that autoimmune disorders mistakenly attack the body’s tissues and cells commonly causing symptoms of narcolepsy.

Video on diagnosing narcolepsy

Those who experience the symptoms of narcolepsy are encouraged to see their doctor. Sufferers should discuss symptoms with their doctor advise if there is a family history of narcolepsy to help pin point the cause. There is not a cure known at this time. However, therapy, lifestyle changes and medication can work together to improve narcolepsy symptoms and quality of life.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder experienced by many. It occurs when a person has a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep. It results in poor-quality sleep or lack of sleep. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of issues and has symptoms that will alert you that it is a possibility you may be experiencing insomnia. There are two types of insomnia, primary insomnia that is not directly associated with other health issues and secondary insomnia which is a result from a medical disorder such as arthritis, heartburn and asthma.  Insomnia will definitely lead to sleep deprivation.

Causes of Chronic Insomnia

  • Chronic stress.
  • Physical pain.
  • Anxiety.

Causes of Acute Insomnia

  • Physical discomfort.
  • Emotional discomfort.
  • Environmental factors such as extreme temperature, light and noise.
  • Life stress like going through a divorce, experiencing job loss or a death of a loved one.
  • Serious illness.
  • Side effects from prescription medications.
  • Jet lag.
  • Working a night shift.

Symptoms

  • Exhaustion during the day.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Problems with memory.
  • Feeling tired when waking up.
  • Problems falling asleep.
  • Waking up before the alarm.

Diagnosis

If you feel that you are experiencing insomnia visit your physician immediately. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam to determine if your insomnia is linked to a medical condition. In addition, the doctor may require you to keep a sleep journal and encourage you to keep notes of your sleep habits. Depending on your specific situation and your doctor’s opinion, you may be referred to a sleep specialist for further review.

Treatment for Acute Insomnia

Short-term insomnia may not require treatment. Sometimes acute insomnia is a brief result of life stress and dissolves on its own as the stressful situation is resolved. Other time, improving sleep habits is beneficial to curing acute insomnia.

 

Treatment for Chronic Insomnia

Long-term insomnia usually requires treatment by a physician. First your doctor will treat any underlying conditions that may be the cause of your chronic insomnia. Relaxation exercises and behavioral therapy are also tools that help dissolve and prevent chronic insomnia.

Improving Sleep Habits

Whether you have chronic or acute insomnia improving your sleep habits such as aroma therapy, taking a warm bath with essential oils, reading a book, exercising on a regular basis, avoiding caffeine and quit smoking, go to sleep at the same time every night and don’t eat two hours before bed will be beneficial.

Insomnia is a common complaint that people have who are under extreme stress for long periods of time. While stress is a part of everyday life, many people have a difficult time dealing with serious life issues. The constant worry, fear and focus of a stressful situation can cause many to lie awake at night and experience insomnia. Although the stressful situation might still be apparent, improving sleep habits will assist in calming nerves and relaxing the mind. Insomnia can be maintained, prevented and cured with the right tools and under the guidance of a physician.

10 signs you are sleep deprived

Almost everyone has a time in their life when they stay up late to finish a report for work or just need a few extra hours in the day to clean the house or conduct late night research online. It’s common for you to easily shave off a few hours of sleep to complete a task. Besides, how else are you going to add hours to your day? While it is ok to occasionally and randomly miss out on a few hours of sleep, making it a daily habit can cause you to become sleep deprived. There are specific signs that will alert you that you are experiencing sleep deprivation.

  • Inability to Handle Stress – Daily life is full of stressful situations big or small. If you are showing signs that you can’t handle small stressful situations without losing your temper there is a chance that this is a sign of sleep deprivation.
  • Poor Memory – Are you becoming forgetful? Not just about what time your favorite show is on, but forgetting important appointment times and days. Or, even forgetting acquaintances names? Chronic poor memory loss can be directly linked with sleep deprivation.
  • Experiencing Clumsiness – It is one thing to stub a toe every now and then, but are you dropping things, bumping into things or experiencing clumsy moments on a daily basis? Chronic clumsiness is frequently caused by lack of sleep.
  • Stressful Relationships – Are your spouse and children running into another room when you arrive home? Are friends avoiding you? It is a possibility that your lack of sleep is causing you to become moody and grouchy, possibly taking your frustrations out on the ones you love.
  • Lack of Concentration – Are you unable to focus on your work or school work? Do you have to read the same sentence a few times just to comprehend it? Lack of concentration or difficulty focusing and understanding a situation or work related information can be caused by sleep deprivation.
  • Increased Appetite – Do you feel like you are hungry more than usual throughout the day and evening? An increased appetite happens when you lack sleep and your body does not have the chance to regulate hormones that affect your appetite, causing you to feel hungry and consume more food than usual.
  • Falling Asleep Immediately – Placing your head on your pillow at night and immediately falling to sleep is a sign that your body is exhausted and needs more sleep.
  • Zoning Out – Suddenly zoning out mid-conversation or in the middle of work or traffic is a dangerous symptom of sleep deprivation. It can cause accidents, errors in your work and cause arguments with others due to your lack of attention.
  • Impulsive Behavior – Making quick decisions based on emotion instead of thinking the topic through can be caused by sleep deprivation. It is possible that you are so tired that you are carelessly making decisions just to get through the day.
  • Sleeping in Public Places – Falling asleep in public places such as a movie theatre or restaurant is a sign that you need to sleep more. This shows that your body is experiencing sleep deprivation and is trying to find time to sleep at any moment you enter a dark, cool environment.

As you can see the sleep deprivation signs can have a negative impact on your day to day life. If left untreated you can truly cause many problems in your life ranging from job loss to an automobile accident. If you are experiencing these symptoms and are noticeably having difficulty sleeping or you are overwhelmed with your daily schedule, it is wise to seek consultation from your doctor.

 

Good Sleep: Ounce of Prevention and A Pound of Cure

There’s a saying that sleep finally caught up with me, and I quietly drifted off to sleep, woke up and didn’t realize having slept for an entire day! With the increasing numbers of technological gadgets, many of us are addicted to social media, videos and solitude games. The flashing lights and constant movement of the screens are captivating and addictive.

With the increasing desire for some to stay totally connected to a small number of friends and relatives, but a whole world of strangers, it’s likely that households across America have multiple devices in the home for each family member in which they are multi-tasking or at least attempting to do so. Even knowing that one needs to go to bed at a decent hour in order to get up freshly rested and ready for the new day, kids and adults constantly retort, “I’ll be all right, but please ‘just give me one more minute.’ And before you know it, that one minute extends to 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes. Walk in any bedroom with teenagers and adults, and you are likely to see that the lights have been turned down for the night, but glowing lights let you know that someone is still up chatting, reading, surfing, tweeting, posting, and playing on one or more devices.

At the break of dawn, sleep heads are grumpy and difficult to awake. Even though it’s just a lack of sleep, they may substitute the truth with complaints about feeling too sick to go to school, an appointment or work.

According to the Washington Post, ongoing and emerging research has linked insufficient or irregular sleep patterns over time to the development of serious illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and even cancers. Some studies have shown a direct correlation between hormonal and protein imbalances that cause illness, inflammation, chronic joint and muscle pain, as well as autoimmune diseases. Apparently, sharing information and continuing to study sleep behavior is sounding an alarm and is a wakeup call that sleep depravity may be taking its toll and causing an increasing number of illnesses and diseases too many people who have doubted that lacking sleep is a serious problem that is headed for an epidemic.

Lawrence Eppstein, President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, stated that some sleep slackers, much to their detriment, have erroneously believed that they can control and manipulate sleep without any consequences.

The evidence continues to show that getting less than six hours of asleep a night eventually creates a dysfunction of the various human body systems that require optimal support in order to function efficiently. There seems to be an alarming number of people who are sick because of some serious conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, just to name a few.

Watch this video on 3 exercises to overcome insomnia

With continued research and discussions about the impact of sleep on one’s overall health, perhaps those who are not worried and who sleep enough just to get by will wake up before it’s too late.