Tag: narcolepsy

Some conditions, like sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome, interrupt sleep and keep you awake. Narcolepsy is a condition that causes you to sleep, but at all the wrong times. In people with narcolepsy, the brain is unable to properly regulate the body’s normal sleep-wake cycles, leading to disjointed sleep at night and an uncontrollable urge to sleep during the day.

About 1 in 3,000 Americans have narcolepsy, and many don’t realize they live with the condition because it can be difficult to diagnose. People with narcolepsy sleep for the same number of hours each night as those without the condition; however, their sleep doesn’t follow normal patterns. Typically when people fall asleep, they first drift into a stage of light sleep. Then, after about 90 minutes, they enter the deeper rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage. Those with narcolepsy enter REM sleep right away, and may experience periods of REM sleep throughout the day.

The primary symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks, which can occur often enough to interfere with normal activities. Many people report falling asleep at work, in school, or in the middle of social situations. Often these sleep episodes last for just a few seconds. It’s common for people to continue what they were doing. For example, taking notes in class or cooking a meal, while they sleep. Cataplexy; a sudden loss of muscle tone and control, is another hallmark symptom of narcolepsy. Some people experience sleep paralysis during transitions between sleep and wakefulness. During these episodes, they are suddenly frozen and unable to move for seconds to minutes at a time.

Two drugs; modafinil (Nuvigil) and sodium oxybate (Xyrem) are FDA-approved to treat narcolepsy. These medicines help recharge the central nervous system to create a feeling of alertness. Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help control cataplexy. Doctors also prescribe sedatives to improve sleep at night. Taking naps during the day, and following a set sleep schedule at night can also help with narcolepsy.

3. Common Sleep Disorders

Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea are by far the most prevalent sleep disorders, but they’re far from the only ones. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recognizes 78 sleep disorders, which include restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy, and disorders that cause too much sleep (hypersomnia). Sleep

Cataplexy: Definition of a Rare, Potentially Dangerous Condition

Cataplexy: Definition of a Rare, Potentially Dangerous Condition

What kind of medical condition could possibly be triggered by something like anxiety, fear, depression, joy, or even laughter? The answer is cataplexy—a sudden loss of muscle strength, tone, and control. Muscle tone is what keeps our bodies upright and moving, as the Narcolepsy Network puts it.

And why is the

4. How Depression Is Diagnosed

Each health-care professional approaches the diagnosis of depression differently. How you come to be diagnosed depends on many factors, including the type of symptoms you have, how long you have had them, and whether you have other medical problems. Health-care professionals of different specialties also may favor use of certain

Why Am I Having Hypnagogic Hallucinations?

Why Am I Having Hypnagogic Hallucinations?

Do you ever have wild visions or dreams that are extremely vivid and seem like real life just as you’re falling asleep? You may be experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations, a condition often associated with narcolepsy. In fact, hypnagogic hallucinations are among the four most common narcolepsy symptoms, along with sleep paralysis,

Myoclonus: An Innocent Twitch—or a Serious Illness?

Myoclonus: An Innocent Twitch—or a Serious Illness?

What is myoclonus? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, myoclonus “refers to sudden, involuntary jerking of a muscle or group of muscles.” It is a symptom, not a disease, affecting 8.6 people per 100,000 in its more serious presentations. A myoclonic twitch or a myoclonic jerk—when

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Has a friend ever bragged about how refreshed he feels after just four or five hours of sleep the night before? Do you know a child who resists going to bed at a reasonable hour because she “doesn’t feel tired?” Do you find yourself on an inconsistent schedule when it

3. Common Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders can be caused by internal factors, such as medical problems, or by external factors, such as stressful situations. Some sleep disorders affect your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep, while others disrupt the structure of your sleep.
The most common sleep disorders by far are insomnia and

4. How Depression is Diagnosed

Once you’ve made that important first step to go see your doctor or a mental health professional for your depression symptoms, these experts will give you a comprehensive assessment to determine whether you are indeed suffering from the condition. This section describes some of the things that might happen during

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

If you think you might be suffering from depression, the only way to know for sure is to see a doctor or mental health professional. Once you’ve made that important first step, your first question may well be: “How is depression diagnosed?”

The process starts with a doctor or mental health

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