What Is Narcolepsy and How Is It Treated?

You probably have not heard of narcolepsy before. Now you are at the right place. This uncommon sleep disorder occurs in about 1 in 2,000 individuals. The condition makes you feel extremely sleepy and fall asleep unexpectedly. If you are experiencing such symptoms, you might be suffering from narcolepsy. Fortunately, there is an effective treatment for you. Dr. Sarah Patel is a qualified sleep medicine physician at Sonoran Sleep Center, which offers effective narcolepsy Glendale treatments. Read on for more details about narcolepsy and its treatments.

 What Exactly Is Narcolepsy?

As stated earlier, this chronic condition makes you suddenly feel tired or fall asleep. According to scientific research, narcolepsy can occur in two types; type 1 and type 2 narcolepsy. Type 1 narcolepsy makes you tired and is accompanied by an immediate loss of muscle tone. On the other hand, type 2 narcolepsy mostly causes sleep-related symptoms such as feeling asleep and suddenly falling asleep.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Narcolepsy?

The common narcolepsy symptoms include; unexpected napping, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and sudden loss of muscle tone when angry or laughing. You might also experience hallucinations when waking up or falling asleep. For instance, you might see weird things, such as shadows of people watching you. On the other hand, if you have hypersomnia, you will have excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep drunkenness. Unlike a narcolepsy patient, dozes are not refreshing for those with hypersomnia.

What Is the Cause of Narcolepsy?

The specific cause of narcolepsy is not known. However, scientific research shows that individuals suffering from type 1 narcolepsy have lower hypocretin levels. This is a neurochemical that helps to control wakefulness and REM sleep. Scientists also claim genetics contribute to the development of the condition. But there is only a one percent chance of passing narcolepsy disorder from parent to child. 

How Is Narcolepsy Disorder Diagnosed?

When you go to the doctor with narcolepsy-like symptoms, the diagnosis will be made via sleep tests and studies. Your doctor might recommend polysomnography or multiple sleep latency test. Polysomnography uses electrodes to examine your heart, brain, and breathing, as well as your eyes and muscle movement during sleep.

On the other hand, a multiple sleep latency test is done during the day. The doctor will measure the time you take a nap and how fast you enter into REM (dream) sleep. You will be asked to take around five naps about three hours apart as your doctor monitors the sleep patterns. If you tend to get into REM sleep fast and nap easily, you will likely have narcolepsy.

How Is Narcolepsy Treated?

Narcolepsy treatment often includes prescription medications and lifestyle changes which can be combined to relieve the narcolepsy symptoms. Regarding lifestyle changes, doctors often recommend that you avoid smoking and alcohol, work out regularly and go to bed at the same time every night. The type of medications prescribed will depend on how severe your symptoms are.

Sleep is an essential part of our well-being and health. However, feeling sleepy unexpectedly, particularly during the day, can adversely affect your life. Dr. Patel is skilled in diagnosing and treating narcolepsy using a combination of stress management, lifestyle changes, and medications. Call or schedule an appointment at Soloran Sleep Center to find out if you have narcolepsy and get effective treatment.