All Things Sleep

Narcolepsy - Excessive need to sleep

Narcolepsy - Excessive need to sleep

Narcolepsy is a persistent disorder that causes a constant urge to sleep during the day and makes you tired throughout the day. Those who suffer from narcolepsy find it very hard to be awake for more extended periods. This can lead to many problems because the urge to sleep is overwhelming and can cause serious interruptions to your daily routine.

In a few patients, sudden loss of muscle tone can also be felt, along with narcolepsy. This condition of losing muscle tone suddenly is known as cataplexy in medical terms and is triggered by showcasing solid emotions. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is called Type 1 Narcolepsy, and without cataplexy is known as Type 2 Narcolepsy. 

There is no permanent cure for narcolepsy, but doctors recommend a few remedies and medications to help you cope with narcolepsy. Therapies like sleeping in a comfortable bed like a foam or gel mattress can help you sleep better and longer. Emotional support from family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues can also help cope with narcolepsy.

Signs of Narcolepsy

There are many signs and symptoms of narcolepsy. Some symptoms of narcolepsy are easy to detect, and a few are confusing. The signs of narcolepsy can be pretty bad in the starting years, but eventually, they grow on you and continue for life. 

Signs of narcolepsy are as follows:

  • Sleep Paralysis

Those who suffer from narcolepsy experience not being able to speak or move while falling asleep or waking up in bed. This experience is temporary and can last for a few seconds or a few minutes. However, sleep paralysis can be frightening and affects the psyche of the one who suffers from it. Even if you don’t have control over your body, most people can recall their sleep paralysis incidents later without difficulty. 

However, it is not necessary to have narcolepsy if you have sleep paralysis. Many people who have sleep paralysis do not have narcolepsy, but every person who suffers from narcolepsy experiences sleep paralysis.

  • Hallucinations

Two types of hallucinations occur in narcolepsy. If the hallucinations occur as you fall asleep, then it is called hypnagogic hallucinations. If the hallucinations happen when you wake up, then they are called hypnopompic hallucinations. 

Researchers say that people from different cultures experience various kinds of hallucinations. On an overall level, you get a feel of another presence in the room. Some people say they saw aliens. Some say their predecessors. Some say they saw a dark identity, and some say that they just felt someone hovering around them. 

  • Sudden Loss of Muscle Tone

This condition, as stated above, is also known as cataplexy. It can cause numerous physical changes in the body for a brief period. For example, you may feel weakness in most of your muscles for a few seconds, and then you are back to normal or slurred speech for some time.  

This narcolepsy symptom cannot be controlled and is usually triggered by the uprising of emotions such as excitement or laughter. Still, sometimes fear, anger or surprise can also trigger it. Some people suffering from narcolepsy may experience one or two episodes of cataplexy in a year. Many people also experience multiple episodes on an everyday basis. However, sudden loss of muscle tone is not an acute symptom of narcolepsy.

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Due to narcolepsy, you may fall asleep anytime and anywhere without warning, even to yourself. For example, you are talking to someone, and you might doze off in the middle of the sentence. This sleep can last from a few minutes to a good half hour. When you wake up, you feel refreshed, but you feel sleepy again in some time.

  • Red Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Changes

REM sleep is the time when you dream the most. If you are suffering from narcolepsy, then REM sleep can occur to you at any time of the day. The average transition period from falling asleep to REM sleep in narcolepsy patients is just 15 minutes. 

Causes of Narcolepsy

The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, but low levels of chemical hypocretin can cause type 1 narcolepsy. Hypocretin is an essential neurochemical present in your brain and helps to regulate REM sleep and weakness. 

If someone is experiencing cataplexy, then their hypocretin levels are low. The cause of low hypocretin levels in the brain is unknown, but experts estimate it’s due to an autoimmune reaction. 

The chances for hereditary narcolepsy are minute, only about 1%, but sometimes it does get passed down from one generation to another. Other researchers believe narcolepsy can also be associated with swine flu, but the reasons behind such speculations are still unknown. 

How to Treat Narcolepsy?

The first step doctors take to treat narcolepsy is by arranging preliminary diagnosis as per your excessive daytime drowsiness and cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle movement). The doctor may ask you to consult a sleep specialist for further treatment post this evaluation. 

A formal diagnosis is carried out by asking you to stay up overnight so the sleep specialists can do an in-depth evaluation. The process is different for every patient based on the following factors:

  • Sleep records
  • Sleep History
  • Multiple sleep latency test
  • Polysomnography

One of the traits that could help you with sleep narcolepsy is owning a comfortable and incredibly plush mattress. For example, a memory foam mattress, adjustable mattress, hybrid mattress, King Koil mattress, gel mattress, or any other mattress advised by a sleep expert. 

You can reach out to Mancini’s Sleepworld and take help from their sleep experts from the comfort of your home. A mattress store like Mancini’s is the best place to find that perfect mattress store for yourself and your loved ones. Mancini’s doesn’t just sell mattresses but makes sure that every mattress you take home is in line with the sleep science to keep you asleep for as long as you need to be.

July 07, 2021