Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime weariness with sudden bouts of sleep. It is a chronic disruption of a person’s sleep-wake cycles that significantly interferes with their daily activities. Narcolepsy can affect both males and females equally, usually between the ages of 7 to 25.
Usually, individuals will enter the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage after sleeping for 60 to 90 minutes. People with narcolepsy enter the REM cycle after 15 minutes or less of sleep. Entering this stage rapidly can cause the dream-like effects and muscle weakness of REM to appear during wakefulness.
Symptoms of narcolepsy can improve over time but can never fully be cured. The various signs of narcolepsy can include:
There isn’t one specific cause for narcolepsy, as everyone can be affected differently. However, those with type 1 narcolepsy usually have low levels of hypocretin, a chemical in the brain that regulates REM and wakefulness. Hypocretin levels are usually not affected in type 2 narcolepsy.
Family history is also a culprit in the development of narcolepsy. If your genetics show a history of narcolepsy, you could be 20 to 40 times more likely to also experience symptoms.
One of the first symptoms doctors will look for is excessive daytime sleepiness. This can be measured with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. If you score high enough, you may be asked to undergo some sleep analyses like polysomnography or a multiple sleep latency test. Your sleep specialist will walk you through choosing the necessary tests.
Depending on the results, you may qualify for various narcolepsy treatment options. While this condition cannot be cured, you can manage it. Some treatments include:
If any of this information about narcolepsy relates to your situation, contact Advanced Medical Care today to schedule an appointment. Our neurologist and sleep specialist is committed to helping you find a solution, whether you have mild narcolepsy symptoms or a more severe case.