Narcolepsy is a condition that can have serious complications. It causes poor sleep quality at night, and intense fatigue during the day that inhibits daily functioning.
Many narcoleptics can experience a temporary weakness in their limbs and other body parts, particularly if they’re under emotional stress. This weakening of the limbs is a condition called cataplexy.
The fatigue experienced by narcoleptics is profound and described by many as a unique, overwhelming, unbearable fatigue with uncontrollable urges to sleep.
There are two types of narcolepsy:
With type I narcolepsy, the narcoleptic experiences episodes called cataplexy, a collapse due to the sudden onset of extreme fatigue. Other symptoms include excessive daytime fatigue, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. The majority of cases are type 1 narcolepsy.
Type II narcolepsy is also categorized by excess fatigue in the daytime, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. The difference is it doesn’t involve cataplexy, the sudden collapse and weakening of body parts.
The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, but many researchers believe that cataplexy relates to a specific neurotransmitter in your brain called hypocretin, which regulates REM sleep and wakefulness.
Many narcoleptics have low hypocretin levels. Why there’s a loss of hypocretin-producing cells, researchers aren’t yet sure.
The shift in chemistry and sudden loss of muscle strength and control has led some researchers to suspect there might be an autoimmune component to narcolepsy. In some cases of narcolepsy, certain viruses such as the swine flu, exposure to certain toxins, or even genetics might play a role.
Your Sound Sleep provider diagnoses narcolepsy with numerous tests and a consultation, where you’ll discuss your medical history, your current symptoms, and details about your sleep schedule and sleep quality.
Before testing for narcolepsy, the Sound Sleep Health team typically recommend an EEG test, or an electroencephalogram, to detect electrical activity in your brain by attaching small electrodes to your scalp.
The Sound Sleep Health team provide in-home sleep testing as much as possible. Patients can undergo sleep testing in the comfort of their own home where they’re more likely to act and sleep naturally.
With in-home testing, accurate, detailed results can be obtained, with patient experience at the forefront. Sound Sleep Health also participates in clinical trials to help progress narcolepsy research.
If you feel you might be narcoleptic and are experiencing symptoms, call or book online to visit the Sound Sleep Health medical team.