If you suspect you have narcolepsy, you may want to make an appointment with your family physician to discuss your symptoms. They will probably refer you to a sleep specialist who can help you undergo testing in a sleep clinic or lab. The sleep specialist will likely be a neurologist, but may also be a pulmonologist, otolaryngologist, or other qualified doctor.
The rate of narcolepsy varies by region, even among developed nations. For instance, in the United States and Europe, about 1 in 2,000 people has narcolepsy. The rate is much lower in Israel, only 1 in 500,000, but much higher in Japan, 1 in 600. The cause of this variation is unknown.
4 AnswersNarcolepsy is a condition characterized by sudden sleep attacks during the day. Individuals with narcolepsy may fall asleep at inappropriate times and without warning several times a day. Research found that people with narcolepsy lack a chemical in the brain known as hypocretin. This substance normally stimulates arousal and helps regulate sleep.
2 AnswersIt's not unusual for people suffering from narcolepsy to visit a variety of healthcare professionals for years before they receive an accurate diagnosis. To get an accurate diagnosis, you should be seen in an accredited sleep center by a sleep specialist.
Two tests are used to diagnose narcolepsy. The nocturnal polysomnogram (sleep study) involves continuous recording of brain waves and several nerve and muscle functions during nighttime sleep. It also includes monitoring your breathing pattern and oxygen levels while you sleep. When tested, people with narcolepsy fall asleep rapidly, enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep early and may wake often during the night. The polysomnogram also helps detect other possible sleep disorders such as sleep apnea that could cause daytime sleepiness.
The multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) measures the degree of daytime sleepiness and detects when REM sleep occurs. During this test, you're given a chance to sleep every two hours during normal wake times. A sleep specialist observes how long it takes you to fall asleep. People with narcolepsy fall asleep rapidly and enter REM sleep very early in their sleep cycle.
Behavioral changes may help treat some of your narcolepsy symptoms without medication. Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime. Exercise regularly, but not at night. Keep a regular sleeping and waking schedule, and take naps of less than 30 minutes at the same time every day. Some people also find counseling or support groups to be helpful.
3 AnswersNarcolepsy is a condition characterized by sudden sleep attacks during the day. Individuals with narcolepsy may fall asleep at inappropriate times and without warning several times a day. Other symptoms that may appear alone or in combination months or years after the daytime sleep attacks begin include:
- Sleep paralysis
- Hypnagogic hallucinations
If you are caring for someone with narcolepsy, make an appointment for them to see their doctor about the condition. Then, ensure that they follow the instructions of their doctor. They should take all prescription medication as directed, and you should contact their doctor right away if they experience any problems. Also, encourage them to avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime. Try to ensure that they exercise regularly (though not at night), keep a regular sleeping and waking schedule, and take naps of less than 30 minutes at the same time every day. Tell their family, friends, and school about their condition so they understand their behavior. Make sure they do not drive or do other dangerous activities if their symptoms are not under control. Have them seek counseling or a support group if you think it will help them cope.
Narcolepsy can affect children as well as adults. Symptoms often begin appearing around age 10 through adolescence. Even preschoolers have been diagnosed with the condition, however. The younger the patient, the more severe the narcolepsy will likely be in adulthood. Untreated narcolepsy can contribute to behavior and learning difficulties. If you suspect your child has narcolepsy, contact their physician.
3 AnswersNewYork-Presbyterian Hospital answered
The treatment for narcolepsy usually involves taking medications to reduce sleepiness during the day and in those who have cataplexy, other medications to prevent cataplexy. The medications to prevent sleep during the day are a group of medicines called stimulants that includes Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine, Provigil and others. Cataplexy is usually treated with antidepressant medications that repress REM (dreaming) sleep such as Tofranil, Norpramin, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.
1 AnswerDr. Mehmet Oz, MD , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answeredIf you've been diagnosed with narcolepsy, I'm going to ask you to make some changes.
1. Tell the people who need to know. Your teachers. Your coworkers. Your boss. Explain your situation and your needs, and emphasize that you still aim to be a responsible fully accountable person. Most people understand, once they know what's going on, and will even be helpful.
2. Schedule your day so you can take a 10- to 15-minute nap after breakfast and lunch. If you're at work or school, escape to a designated office, under a tree, or in your car (if it's in a safe spot).
3. Eat light during the day. Switch to low carbohydrates, low fat meals. Vegetarian meals are great. Avoiding heavy, high-fat meals will help you stay alert. In the evening, eat your normal fare.
4. Consider getting an assistance dog. An assistance dog can nudge you awake, especially if there's danger, and protect you if you have a cataplexy (sudden muscle tone loss) attack in public.
5. Join a support group online. You may be surprised how many people experience the same types of situations you do, and have found tricks to avoiding them.
6. Practice good ol' regular sleep habits. That means no caffeine, alcohol or exercise several hours before bed. But do get regular exercise. Don't smoke. Go to bed before 11 p.m., and at the same time each night. And make your sleeping environment dark, quiet, comfy and safe.
Take on one thing at a time over the next three months. By the end of 90 days, you'll find these habits are a natural part of your life.