16.07.2021 – 13:33
Narcolepsy is a rare condition that makes you feel extremely drowsy during the day and affects the sleep and wake cycle.
Narcolepsy can be confused with other disorders that can disrupt sleep, such as sleep apnea, brain damage, and depression. You will need to have tests done to confirm that narcolepsy is causing your symptoms. The main tests they use to diagnose narcolepsy are a polysomnogram and a multiple sleep delay test (MSLT).
What is narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that causes excessive daytime drowsiness despite not getting enough sleep. This can also affect the quality of sleep. Occurs when the brain has difficulty controlling your sleep-wake cycles.
Adult individuals generally fall into the REM state of sleep in 60 to 90 minutes. The REM state of sleep is the sleep phase that allows you to dream. During REM, your brain keeps your muscles soft to stop your body from responding to your dreams.
People with narcolepsy often switch to REM within 15 minutes of sleep and may even experience dreams and REM sleep muscle weakness during waking hours.
Narcolepsy makes you feel very tired throughout the day. You may even fall asleep in the middle of an activity such as talking or driving.
Other symptoms include:
Sudden muscle weakness (called cataplexy)
Even when the daytime symptoms are mild, it is important to talk to a doctor if you think you may have narcolepsy.
A good night’s rest is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Frequently interrupted sleep, like the disrupted sleep-wake cycle in narcolepsy, can lead to long-term side effects on your overall health and well-being.
There is no cure for either type of narcolepsy, but there are some medications and lifestyle changes that can help.
The treatment plan will depend on the type of narcolepsy, its severity, and your general health. It may take some trial and error for you and your doctor to find a treatment that works.
Options for treating narcolepsy include:
Promotional awakening medications. These medicines can help you stay awake during the day. People with narcolepsy often take modafinil or armodafinil as a first-line treatment. More traditional stimulants, such as amphetamines, may be prescribed if these do not help. Newer medications such as pitolisant or solriamfetol may also be considered.
Antidepressants. Some antidepressant medications can help with hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and muscle weakness.
Oksibate. Sodium oxibate reduces daytime drowsiness and fights muscle weakness. This medicine is taken at night in divided doses.
Sleep schedule adjustments. It is important for people with narcolepsy to achieve a sufficient amount of sleep at night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Your doctor may also advise you to get a short nap planned throughout the day.
Dietary changes. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and large meals in the hours leading up to the scheduled bedtime can improve sleep quality. It is important to avoid other medications that may cause daytime drowsiness or nighttime insomnia or interact with narcolepsy medications.
Lifestyle changes. In addition to adequate sleep at night and naps during the day with good sleep-wake routines, adjusting work or school hours may need to be considered.