Narcolepsy is excessive sleepiness in the daytime that results in falling asleep at inappropriate times and falling rapidly into REM sleep. Narcoleptics sleep a normal amount, it’s just that they can’t control when they sleep. Around 1 in every 2000 people have narcolepsy.
The biggest issue of people suffering from narcolepsy is the inability to get properly diagnosed because first you have to rule out other sleep disorders. About 50% of narcoleptics are undiagnosed. And too often narcoleptics are considered lazy or crazy.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness: Narcoleptics can fall asleep anywhere without warning, often several times a day in the middle of normal activities which affects their ability to focus and fully function
- Cataplexy: This is a sudden weakening of the muscles and can cause your head to droop, your knees to buckle and slurred speech
- Disrupted nighttime sleep
- Sleep Paralysis: this is usually considered a disorder but is really a symptom
- Frightening hallucinations when falling asleep or waking up
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder with no cure but symptoms can be managed through medications and lifestyle modifications
- Sodium Oxybate (Xyrem)
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) or Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic Antidepressants
- Good Sleep Habits
- Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule
- Take Naps
- Get Regular Exercise
- Avoid Nicotine and Alcohol