Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder which affects the sufferer’s nervous system. This can cause such abnormal sleep that it has the ability to affect their day-to-day life.
Affecting approximately 1 in 2,000 people, symptoms tend to begin when the sufferer is between 10 and 25 years old. However, the condition is not always recognised very quickly. In some cases, the condition might even be misdiagnosed.
The Types of Narcolepsy
There are 2 types of Narcolepsy, and they are:
- Type 1 – This is the most common type. Those who suffer from this type will experience cataplexy. This is a sudden loss of their muscle tone. Extreme sleepiness and cataplexy can occur during the day. This is due to the sufferer having low levels of hypocretin (Also known as “orexin”).
- Type 2 – This type of Narcolepsy does not include cataplexy. When someone has type 2, it means their levels of hypocretin are normal.
The Symptoms of Narcolepsy
The symptoms of Narcolepsy can include:
- Automatic behaviours – If someone with Narcolepsy were to fall asleep while they’re driving or eating, for example, they can continue undertaking that activity for up to a few minutes and without even realising.
- Cataplexy – This is a sudden but temporary loss of muscle tone. The severity of this condition can vary from drooping eyelids to a total collapse of the body. Intense emotions such as excitement, laughing, and fear can be a trigger for cataplexy. However, this symptom can vary from person-to-person. Some people might experience it once a year, others might experience it a few times each day.
- Daytime sleepiness – This can be quite excessive. Anyone with this condition might find that they have an overwhelming need to sleep. Also known as “Excessive daytime sleepiness” (EDS), this symptom can make it hard to function very well during the daytime.
- Fragmented sleep – Those who suffer from Narcolepsy might have difficulty sleeping at night.
- Hallucinations – Some people with Narcolepsy can have vivid hallucinations. These tend to occur when they are falling asleep or when they are waking up.
- Poor REM Sleep – REM (Rapid eye movement) sleep is the stage of sleep that involves vivid dreams and loss of muscle tone. Usually beginning approximately 90 minutes after you have fallen asleep, REM sleep can occur at any time in people with this condition. It can typically occur within 15 minutes of them falling asleep.
- Sleep paralysis – This symptom involves the inability to speak or move when you’re falling asleep, when you’re waking, or when you are asleep. The good news is that these episodes tend to last no more than a few minutes. Occasionally, they might only last a few seconds.
Treatment for Narcolepsy
Treatment for this condition can include medication, avoiding some hazardous activities, and adjustments to your lifestyle.
Medication is often prescribed for Narcolepsy. Some doctors prescribe:
- Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors
- Serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors
- Sodium oxybate
- Trycyclic antidepressants
Your doctor may prescribe you one of the above types of medication if they think they can help you. Please note, everyone is different and will experience different symptoms. This means that two people who suffer from Narcolepsy might not be offered the same kind of medication.
If you’ve been searching for “Narcolepsy help in Barlby”, for example, you will be pleased to know there is help available. Your first port of call should be your doctor as they may wish to evaluate your sleep. There are also support groups that can help you. If you think you might be suffering from this condition, please speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
Interested in helping those who are struggling with their mental health? We offer Mental Health First Aid training in Selby. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org