Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes those affected to experience uncontrollable sleep during the day. It affects men and women equally; experts estimate that people with family history of Narcolepsy are 10 times more likely to suffer from it as well. In most cases, the first symptoms occur in early adolescence, but some people may not experience symptoms until they are in their early 20’s.
Classic symptoms of Narcolepsy include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
- Cataplexy, sudden loss of muscle tone is one of the main symptoms of Narcolepsy.
- Sleep Paralysis. A person isn’t able to move or speak during the attack.
- Hallucinations (hypnologic hallucinations) transitional state between wakefulness and sleep.
Additionally, a person suffering from Narcolepsy may also experience:
- Problems with staying asleep during the night.
- Automatic Behavior, in which a person may function during sleep (talk, walk, put things away.) but awakens with no recollection of such episodes.
- Loss of sharp vision
The core causes of Narcolepsy aren’t fully known yet. Scientists are researching a theory that would link genetic factors, autoimmunity and REM sleep. We do know, however, that Narcolepsy isn’t caused by mental illness or psychological problems and it is most likely caused by genetic abnormalities that affect the brain.
Narcolepsy itself is not fatal, but its symptoms can lead to death indirectly (e.g. falling asleep while driving).
Famous people who suffer from Narcolepsy include: Jimmy Kimmel (television host, comedian), Nastassja Kinski (actress), and Franck Bouyer (professional cyclist),
If you’d like to explore this topic further, please visit: http://adam.about.com/reports/Narcolepsy.htm
Do you or anyone you know suffer from Narcolepsy? What is the most dangerous episode you had? Leave us a comment below.
-- Important: The Sleep Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, this website provides general information for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding any medical condition or treatment.