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.

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