What is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy, which is called sleep attacks, diagnosed about one in 2,000 in people occurs in almost every age. The disease affects people between the ages of 35-45 more. Sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome also causes the need for daytime sleep. But narcolepsy has a very distinctive feature.
People having one of these two diseases, wake up tired in the morning because they can not sleep well at night. This causes a need for sleep during the day. However, in narcolepsy, although the person wakes up with having enough sleep in the morning and feels the desire to sleep during the day.
How is Narcolepsy Diagnosed?
The definitive diagnosis of narcolepsy is made by multiple sleep latency tests. For this, the patient spends a night in the sleep lab or sleep center. Sleeping sensors attach to patient’s body then the process is evaluated. The next day, the person is let to sleep five times as 20 minutes each. Narcolepsy is diagnosed if a person starts to sleep with REM period by multiple sleep latency test.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
It is the most important symptom of narcolepsy. This situation is uncontrollable. It’s a spontaneous desire to sleep. Excessive daytime sleepiness occurs suddenly. People who experience this condition sleep anywhere, at any time. They can suddenly fall asleep.
Sudden Muscle Weakness
Sudden loss of muscle strength is called cataplexy. It occurs when the muscles suddenly lose their strength. This takes several seconds or several minutes. This situation cannot be controlled. Generally, when patients have negative emotions, it is seen. These emotions; laughing, excitement, fear, surprise and anger.
Narcolepsy patients suffer from sleep paralysis. This condition is expressed as short-term paralysis. Sleep paralysis is uncontrollable.
It is called the sleep-inducing hallucinations. Rapid sleep transition occurs during the first sleep or during waking up. They are half asleep when they start dreaming. They perceive dreams as real.
Although there is no treatment for narcolepsy, medicines and lifestyle changes will help to heal some of the symptoms. Narcolepsy is seen in both men and women and could even affect animals. The treatment of each patient will vary depending on the patient’s personal needs. Here are the most known treatment methods:
- Stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, and methamphetamine
- Antidepressants, especially tricyclic antidepressants, are very useful in the treatment of hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis
- Maintain regular sleep and sleep hygiene
- Quit smoking, especially at nights
- Exercise properly
- Relax with deep breathing
- Stay away from alcohol and coffee before sleeping
Methylphenidate: It is a kind of central nervous system (CNS) stimulus. It is for narcolepsy and severe chronic fatigue syndromes.
Dextroamphetamine: It is a kind of central nervous system stimulant. It is an addictive drug.
Methamphetamine: It is a synthetic substance with stimulant and hallucination properties. Like many stimulants, a strong euphoria lasting 6-24 hours; therefore it is capable of making addictions.