Narcolepsy refers to a chronic sleep disorder causing excessive drowsiness during the daytime and sudden bouts of sleep. People with this condition have difficulty staying awake for long periods despite all circumstances. Narcolepsy is often complained as a condition that disrupts a person’s daily routine and interferes with daily activities.
However, many people believe that narcolepsy is a condition that arises due to depression, fainting, seizure disorders, lack of sleep or any other underlying condition that may result in disrupted sleep patterns.
Unfortunately narcolepsy is a chronic condition without a cure. Sometimes however, medication and simple lifestyle changes and preventive measures may allow you to control certain symptoms.
Signs and symptoms for Narcolepsy patient
The onset of symptoms and signs is most common between the ages between the ages of 10 and 25. Symptoms may worsen within the first few years and can also persist for life.
Below is a short YouTube video about Narcolepsy: Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
- Excessive daytime drowsiness. People may fall asleep suddenly at any place, anytime.
- Decreased alertness. The person may find it difficult to concentrate and work.
- Sudden unexplained loss of muscle tone. This is called cataplexy, which is characterized by the sudden onset of physical changes such as slurred speech and muscle weakness for a period of time. This is an uncontrollable condition that is stimulated by intense emotions – particularly positive emotions – such as excitement and laughter but can occur due to anger, fear or surprise as well. Signs of cataplexy may include buckling the knees without conscious control while laughing. Some people may experience cataplexy rarely, for example, one to two bouts per year, while others may have it several times a day. There are some people who may not experience cataplexy at all.
- Sleep paralysis. This is characterized by the inability to move, speak or get up while falling asleep or waking up. Sleep paralysis is often brief, but can be frightening.
- Hallucinations. A person with narcolepsy may experience hypnagogic hallucinations while falling asleep and hypnopompic hallucinations upon waking. When a person is dreaming, he is often semi-awake, therefore, once he starts dreaming, he may feel as if he is in the real world, with vivid details, which can be frightening for many people.
See a health care provider if excessive drowsiness interferes with your work pattern or disrupts personal life.
Treatment for Narcolepsy
There is no cure for narcolepsy, but people may benefit from medications and certain lifestyle changes. If narcolepsy interrupts daily work patterns, make sure you see your doctor so that you receive advice on appropriate medication.
The following home treatment steps may allow you to cope with symptoms:
- Create a sleep schedule and stick to it. Make an attempt to sleep and wake at the exact same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Take short naps. Take naps at regular intervals. A nap of 20 minutes may be refreshing and ward of drowsiness for 1 to 3 more hours.
- Exercise regularly. Moderate exercises for to five hours before your bedtime can help you be more energetic and awake during working periods of the day and sleep more soundly at night.
Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Avoid these drugs especially during nighttime as they can significantly worsen symptoms of narcolepsy.