A Look At Narcolepsy Symptoms

Narcolepsy symptoms, characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, is a chronic (long-lasting) neurological (affecting the brain or nerves) disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. This disorder is best characterized as an inability of the nervous system to maintain the boundaries between wakefulness and sleep.

Some people, no matter how much sleep they get, continue to feel an irresistible need to sleep. They can fall asleep anytime – while working, sitting, standing, talking, or driving a car. These “sleep attacks” can go on from 30 seconds to more than 30 minutes. During attacks, these people may also lose muscle tones (cataplexy) from slight buckling at the knees to a complete limpness of the body.

Chances are these people may already have narcolepsy.

About one in 2,000 people are believed to suffer from narcolepsy symptoms. It affects both men and women of any age, but its peek onset appears between the ages of 15 and 30.

Most individuals that suffer from narcolepsy are not aware of the problem and are thus not treated. So it is important that the narcolepsy symptoms be identified quickly immediately. These include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). It is an overwhelming and recurring need to sleep at times when you want to be awake.
  • Cataplexy. A sudden loss of muscle control ranging from slight weakness (head droop, facial sagging, jaw drop, slurred speech, buckling of knees) to total collapse. It is commonly triggered by intense emotions (laughter, anger, surprise, fear) or strenuous athletic ability.
  • Sleep paralysis, or temporary inability to move which occurs during the process of going to sleep or waking up.
  • Hypnagogic/Hynopompic Hallucinations (when falling asleep or waking up, respectively). Intense, vivid and often scary visual or auditory experiences that are hard to distinguish from reality.
  • Automatic behaviour or the performance of a routine task, without conscious awareness of doing it, and often without later memory of it.

The development, number and severity of narcolepsy symptoms vary widely among individuals with the disorder. It is also probable that there is an important genetic component to the disorder as well.

While there is no cure, the narcolepsy symptoms can be controlled with behavioural and medical therapy. Continuing doctor-patient communication is necessary. Equally important is educating one’s family, friends, teachers, and co-workers about narcolepsy.

Also, basic lifestyle adjustments such as keeping a good sleep schedule, improving diet, increasing exercise and avoiding "exciting" situations may also help to reduce the effects of excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy.

Suffering from sleeping disorders other then narcolepsy symptoms ? See other articles here.

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