Narcolepsy

Mackenzie Kuhns

What is it?

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes overwhelming daytime drowsiness.
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Cerebral perfusion (blood flow to the brain) changes during cataplexy in narcolepsy patients. Cataplexy can be confused with Seizures, It is the loss of voluntary muscle control, usually caused by an emotional stimulant.

Causes

Some experts believe it is caused by a deficiency in a chemical called hypocretin. Researchers have discovered abnormalities in parts of the brain involved in regulating REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement). These abnormalities can contribute to the development of symptoms.

Symptoms

People with this disorder can experience daytime drowsiness, nightmares or insomnia. This disorder can also affect the muscular system, causing weakness, loss of muscular control, or paralysis of the muscles. Along with fatigue, binge eating, physical collapse while conscious, hallucinations, falling and sleep paralysis. Due to the vagueness in symptoms, lab testing and imaging is required for diagnosis.

Treatments

  • Central nervous system stimulant drugs can be prescribed.
  • Avoid...
Driving
Operating Machinery
Swimming
Scuba Diving
  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule of 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Scheduling naps throughout the day.
  • Avoiding over-stimulation.

Prevalence

It is estimated that about 200,000 people in the United States are affected by Narcolepsy, only 50,000 of them have been diagnosed.