Causes of Narcolepsy, Symptoms and Treatments

Published: 23rd September 2008
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If you feel worn out throughout the day and find yourself dozing off unexpectedly in the middle of what you are doing, you could be suffering from narcolepsy. It is a troubling and serous medical condition. It is not related to poor sleeping habits nor is it due to sloth. It is also dangerous for the individual.

This condition usually shows up between the ages of 10 and 25. It will rarely affect those who are over the age of 40.

Despite having a good rest at night, intense fatigue and dozing off during the day are signs of this issue. People who suffer from narcolepsy have difficulty focusing on daily tasks due to a constant feeling of being tired. Such an illness is difficult to cope with, but it is even scarier when one considers the fact that the individual might sleep suddenly in the midst of operating machinery or activities that need full concentration.

This can be very serious and dangerous because it happens with no prior warning. The person has no time to stop doing what they are doing to get prepared. It is almost impossible for the individual to move away from a dangerous predicament or even consider finding a place for them to lie down. This can happen at any time, but can be extremely dangerous when you are driving or in some other situation where concentration is important.

When these episodes strike, the individual's length of sleep can range from a few minutes to as long as half an hour. Such occurrences can happen a few times within a day. Often, there are automatic reactions that accompany this issue like a resumption of activities beforen they dozed off. Individuals who have this condition might not even recall falling asleep after they wake up.

Around 75% of narcolepsy sufferers also experience another symptom called cataplexy. Narcolepsy actually shuts the body down to some extent and muscles cannot be controlled by the individual. The individual can experience difficulty in articulation or even lose ability to control muscles. Some will experience this symptom more often than others. Some report rare instances, while others experience it every day. It has been suggested that there is some link between narcolepsy and swings in moods and emotions such as uncontrollable euphoria or anger.

Narcolepsy can also show up in the form of paralysis, such as can be seen during REM sleep. However, paralysis in such situations occurs when the individual is beginning to fall asleep or is awakening. The frightening thing is that the person is often fully aware of what is happening and can do nothing about it.

A common sign of narcolepsy is hypnagogic hallucinations. The individual experiences very real images when he is in a state of half-consciousness. 25% to 50% of those with this condition tend to have such symptoms.

There is still much to learn about what actually causes narcolepsy, but it is believed that genetics plays a role. Having low amounts of a chemical called hypocretin, which is needed to awaken sleep, can be a possible reason.


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Moses Wright is a health conscious webmaster who knows the importance of Sleep Hygiene and How to Prepare for a Good Night Sleep. He started this site to help people learn more about this topic.

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