What is narcolepsy?
Characteristics of narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a type of sleep disorder characterized by a compelling need to sleep during the day, forcing the person to fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes. (Daytime sleep periods usually last from several seconds to 15 minutes, although they may extend beyond 60 minutes)
Falling asleep can occur in any work or any situation or place, (even while holding a conversation). After this period, affected people wake up and stay fresh for a period of time and then re-start the new period of drowsiness and sleep attack again.
The ¾ of people with this disorder also have attacks of cataplexy (Lack of muscle strength or physical collapse with preservation of consciousness) and hallucinations passing from sleep to wakefulness or vice versa, even during the sleep period.
Consequencies of narcolepsy
It is a chronic disease in which the patient needs to take a medical treatment and a to adopt a certain lifestyle to deal with it more easily.
By all means, one should avoid to be injured himself/ herself unconsciously at work or driving. So, in relation with driving possibilities, the driving license can even be denied.
Narcolepsy is a disorder that alters the life of people affected. It can affect them to to such an extent that they can lose their job. In many cases, people become dependent and need the help or the presence of a family member with them.
They have personal problems in their relationships with others because they can fall asleep in the middle of a conversation or, apparently showing little interest to their audience. In many cases, they are denied driver’s license or they are disposed of places of responsibility or personal danger.
Symptoms of narcolepsy
The main symptoms or narcolepsy are:
- Sleepiness or becoming asleep, even when working or talking.
- Habitual somnolence, especially after strong emotions (discussions, very strong joys, angers, etc.)
- Sleepiness after eating, particularly with big meals.
- Brief periods of sleep during the day.
- Inability to move the body before falling asleep or waking up (sleep paralysis)
- Paralytic attacks with possible fall to the ground.
- Hallucinations before or during sleep.
Causes of narcolepsy
To understand the causes of narcolepsy, we need to know the different sleep stages. There are 5 stages of sleep:
– Stages 1, 2 (light sleep stages). In them there is a decrease in heart rate, body temperature and movement of the eyes. A person can be awakened easily.
– Stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep stages) They produce a revitalization of the body. It is very difficult to wake a person during these stages. In case someone is woken up, he/she gets up dazed
– Stage 5 (REM sleep – Rapid Eye Movement sleep) During this stage there is an increase of cardiac rhythm, respiration and eye movement.
Narcolepsy is caused because the affected person goes directly into the phase known as REM sleep without having gone through the previous stages. The person with narcolepsy passes directly from being awake to REM sleep, whereas a normal person would need about an hour and a half to go through the previous phases.
Why does narcolepsy occur?
No one knows exactly what are the reasons that cause these changes. The general opinion suggests that is primarily due to a genetic problem that gives rise to lesions in the neurons of the brain that regulate sleep stages. Other theories try to establish that these injuries are caused by an infection, toxin ingestion, head injuries or as a result of dehydration.
The most upheld hypothesis lately is that people with narcolepsy have low levels of orexins. It is believed that these hormones have an important role in increasing the body’s metabolism. They make people become more active, increase their need to eat more and keep them awake. Animal studies have shown that those who were administered with this component were more active and needed to sleep less. Similarly, it has been shown that patients with narcolepsy have lower levels of orexins.
Factors that can predispose or contribute to the onset of this disorder
No matter what are the real causes of narcolepsy, there are a number of factors that can predispose or contribute to the onset of this disorder. The most important ones are:
- Strong emotions
- Heavy meals.
- Other sleep disorders (see listing )
Diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy
In the presence of signs that may indicate the existence of this disorder, it is necessary for the person concerned to be subjected to some sleep studies. (Polysomnography).
If it happens that studies test positive, the doctor will apply the appropriate treatment. This essentially based on the application of stimulants for the patient to be awake during the day.
Natural treatment of narcolepsy can help improve this condition with natural remedies.
More information about narcolepsy and its natural treatment.
7 September, 2020