Narcolepsy is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is the main symptom and is present in 100% of patients with narcolepsy. arcoleptics can fall asleep while working, cooking, or even driving. Narcolepsy affects about 1 in 2,000 people, and is thought to be a genetic disorder. Most people experience their first symptoms between the ages of 10 and 25.
The cause of narcolepsy is not known; however, scientists have made progress toward identifying genes strongly associated with the disorder. These genes control the production of chemicals in the brain that may signal sleep and awake cycles. This disease is caused by some disorder in that particular portion of the brain that controls sleep. The word has come from Greek word meaning a sudden seizure of sleep.
Narcolepsy is more of an embarrassing disease. A lot of social problems arise out of it, more than the physical ones. In general, EDS interferes with normal activities on a daily basis, whether or not a person with narcolepsy has sufficient sleep at night. If you have narcolepsy, you may have vivid dreams while falling asleep, waking up, or dozing. These dreams can feel very real. You may feel like you can see, hear, smell, and taste things. Rarely, people who fall asleep in the middle of an activity, such as eating, may continue that activity for a few seconds or minutes. This is called automatic behavior. During automatic behavior, you’re not aware of your actions, so you don’t do them well.
Sleep hygiene is very important. For example, many people have an improvement in their symptoms if they maintain a regular sleep schedule, usually seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Scheduled naps during the day also help. One study suggested that the optimal sleep pattern is a combination of scheduled nighttime sleep (such as from 11:00 pm to 7:30 am) and two 15-minute naps.
Several specialized tests, which can be performed in a sleep disorders clinic or sleep lab, usually are required before a diagnosis can be established. Two tests that are considered essential in confirming a diagnosis of narcolepsy are the polysomnogram (PSG) and the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT).
Commonly prescribed drugs for narcolepsy are stimulants, antidepressants and sodium oxybate. All medications have side effects so talk with your doctor