A chronic sleep disorder, narcolepsy is when a person experiences sudden attacks of falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day. People with this disorder tend to have problems staying awake for extended periods of time.
Narcolepsy can be an extremely disruptive issue in a person’s life, and can interfere with their safety and productivity. Narcolepsy tends to manifest itself in people between the ages of 10 and 30, although people of all ages can develop it.
There are two different types of narcolepsy. If a person’s narcolepsy includes a sudden loss of muscle tone, it is called cataplexy or type 1 narcolepsy. If a person does not experience sudden loss of muscle tone, it is known as type 2 narcolepsy.
Let’s talk about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for this sleep disorder:
What Are the Symptoms of Narcolepsy?
This condition is characterized by the inability to stay awake all day and the tendency to suddenly fall asleep during normal daytime hours – even when doing things outdoors. This can lead to decreased awareness, alertness, and a lack of focus. Narcolepsy can significantly affect your quality of life, productivity at work and school, and even put your life at risk.
People with narcolepsy also tend to experience sleep paralysis when they’re falling asleep or waking up. Patients who suffer from this condition report a lack of being able to move their body or speak. This can last between several seconds to a few minutes. It can be very alarming to the patient, because sleep paralysis cannot be controlled while it is occurring. Interestingly, not all patients with sleep paralysis have narcolepsy.
Another indicator of narcolepsy is having hallucinations while falling asleep or waking up. The person will be dreaming in actuality, but it will seem as if the events playing out are real. These are called hypnagogic hallucinations if they occur upon falling asleep or hypnopompic hallucinations if they happen when you wake up.
What Causes Narcolepsy?
A person with type 1 narcolepsy tends to have very low levels of hypocretin in the body. This chemical facilitates the body’s ability to regulate wakefulness and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. If an immediate family member of yours is narcoleptic, your chances of developing the condition are 20 to 40 times higher. However, the likelihood of a parent with narcolepsy passing it along to their child is only 1%.
Testing for Narcolepsy
It is best to have a sleep doctor perform a sleep test in order to properly diagnose your sleep issue, whether it be narcolepsy or something else. During a sleep test, a technician will place electrodes on the various parts of your body to monitor you while you sleep. These electrodes will measure the activity in your brain, heart, lungs, and eyes while you sleep.
Sleep Doctor in Irmo, South Carolina
If you’re looking for treatment for narcolepsy or another sleep-related issue, the experts at SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation can help. We employ state-of-the-art tools and treatments to diagnose and treat your sleep-related issue, so you can get quality sleep once again.
Call SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation at (803) 749-1111 to make an appointment, or request an appointment online. Our friendly staff looks forward to serving you in our Irmo clinic.