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What are the Symptoms of Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy

by Eric Martin
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What are the Symptoms of Narcolepsy?

Do you feel that you might have irregular sleeping patterns? Do you face difficulty with sleeping on time or avoid sleeping in the daytime? It may be a sign of a sleeping disorder that you are facing for some time or for a long time. Sleep disorder or somnipathy is a medical condition that results in irregular or disrupted sleeping patterns. Narcolepsy is one of the most common sleep disorders you can find among people. In Western European countries and the US, one out of every 200 people suffer from Narcolepsy. This medical condition is often undiagnosed. Check out for the symptoms of Narcolepsy and seek medical help if you are going through any kind of Narcolepsy signs as mentioned below.

narcolepsy Young bored woman feeling drowsy yawning at home near laptop

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder in which patients feel an excessive amount of sleep during day time and face sudden sleep attacks. It is a long-term neurological disorder that decreases your ability to maintain a healthy sleep cycle over time. Some patients suffering from Narcolepsy also experience a medical sign called cataplexy in which their body suddenly loses muscle strength.  

Causes of Narcolepsy 

Causes of Narcolepsy 

The exact cause of Narcolepsy in patients is still unknown but it is believed that this form of sleeping disorder is passed on by genes and is inherited by someone from the patient’s family history. It can also occur due to some kind of traumatic brain injury, tumor, or other types of illnesses which affects a particular brain system that is responsible for maintaining a sleep schedule. Narcolepsy can occur at any age, especially during the peak periods of 15 and 36 years in between a patient’s lifetime.

Interesting Facts about Narcolepsy

  • There exist two types of Narcolepsy- Type 1 Narcolepsy includes symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep attacks, and fatigue along with cataplexy. On the other hand, Type 2 Narcolepsy doesn’t include cataplexy
  • Narcolepsy often goes mistreated or undiagnosed- Narcolepsy contains several symptoms like excessive daytime sleepiness which are almost common symptoms of other sleeping disorders and that’s why it is hard to diagnose Narcolepsy and even harder to treat it properly.
  • Narcolepsy occurs due to the loss of specific chemicals in the brain- so this medical condition stems from the brain occurs because of hypocretin deficiency or loss in the brain. Hypocretin is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating our sleep cycles.
  • Narcolepsy is more likely to pass on from family genes- The exact cause of Narcolepsy is still unknown but scientists assume that this condition is passed through genes and 10% of Narcoleptic patients had relatives who had similar conditions like them
  • Animals also experience Narcolepsy- Canines and rodents also experience Narcolepsy apart from humans
  • Narcolepsy is treatable- With the help of sleep experts, Narcolepsy can be treated by changing lifestyle patterns and sleep management.

As this medical condition often goes undiagnosed, it is important to know the symptoms of Narcolepsy to check whether you or someone you know is going through it. 

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

There are two major symptoms of Narcolepsy i.e. abnormal Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. Classically this disorder has common 5 symptoms which include: 

  • Cataplexy- It is a condition where narcoleptic patients experience a sudden loss of muscles leading to muscle weakness. Patients may feel limpness around the neck or knee area, face muscles get saggy, knees become weak/ knee buckling, unable to speak or see clearly, or in some cases, the body collapses. 

Emotions such as anger, laughter, surprise, or fear heighten up due to cataplexy, and sometimes in severe cases, it starts to resemble epileptic seizures. During the whole time, the person is conscious and the ability to hear is evident. The person may feel extreme emotions which can lead to avoiding people or sometimes escalate into an attack response. 

  • Sleep paralysis– that is the inability to move or talk during /falling up from sleep for some time. It may last up to a few minutes or seconds. This condition is not dangerous but it can be frightening to patients.
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations- are vivid and frightening dream-like experiences that patients experience while sleeping or falling asleep. A person might feel the same experiences while awakening from sleep. It may occur in the form of sensations that can be visual or auditory.
  • Abnormal REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep- A patient is unable to experience a healthy amount of restorative deep sleep. Narcoleptic patients have high REM sleep density. Even so, they experience more REM sleep without atonia. Moreover, they still do not feel light head and alert throughout the day and feel like they are sleep deprived.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness – This symptom occurs in Narcoleptic patients even though they sleep enough at night. Narcoleptic patients may feel excessive daytime sleep patterns differently as it varies in severity. Daytime sleeping becomes physically irresistible to them and you doze off at day without warning. Patients might experience daytime naps more than once a day even though it is not part of ‘oversleeping. You might also face hallucinations while dozing off during the daytime. 

Other Symptoms of Narcolepsy May Include:

  • Prolonged tiredness- Even though narcoleptic patients get adequate nighttime sleep, they may still feel tired and drowsy throughout the day. They are unable to feel refreshed or energetic or alert throughout the day. It occurs despite having a sufficient amount of REM sleep.
  • Periods of wakefulness at night
  • Insomnia- In rare cases, they feel they might go through Insomnia for an extended period of time. It is a condition where a person is unable to sleep properly. They find it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Also, sometimes it causes you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep again. 

These symptoms may combine with each other depending upon the severity and can lead you to Narcolepsy. 

Natural ways to Treat Narcolepsy

The ways to cure Narcolepsy are not found yet but this condition is treatable with the help of sleep experts. We need to strategize the way we take naps and what time we take naps to. Along with that, being physically active and getting proper sunlight also work as effectively at home for Narcolepsy. According to experts in Ayurveda, there are some ways that can help you treat the Narcolepsy problem. Ayurvedic medicines like Shiva Gitka and Brahmi Vati can be taken to treat the medical condition of Narcolepsy. Additionally, consuming complex carbs like whole grains, legumes, berries, and sweet potatoes can significantly help you get regular sleep. Minimizing processed foods or added sugars works as well.

Conclusion

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder in which patients feel an excessive amount of sleep during day time. They also face sudden sleep attacks for a long period of time. There are various symptoms of Narcolepsy and major symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. We can use natural ways to treat Narcolepsy but it’s better to consult a doctor. Furthermore, you should get proper treatment of it.

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