Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder, or dyssomnia, characterized by excessive sleepiness and sleep attacks at inappropriate times, such as while at work. People with narcolepsy often experience disturbed nocturnal sleep and an abnormal daytime sleep pattern, which often is confused with insomnia.
Sleep paralysis (SP). SP is also a very brief loss of muscle tone, but it happens when someone is falling asleep or waking up. It can be very alarming to the patient, as the person may mentally be awake but his or her body is unable to move or speak.
Narcolepsy affects more than 200,000 Americans -- as many as those with multiple sclerosis, according to Wake Up Narcolepsy, an organization that supports research.
EDS is usually the first symptom of narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy often report feeling easily tired or tired all the time. They tend to fall asleep not only in situations in which many normal people feel sleepy (after meals or during a dull lecture), but also when most people would remain awake (while watching a movie or writing a letter).
On 1 February 2011, the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland issued a preliminary statement following an investigation into the cases of narcolepsy in Finland .
In someone without a sleep disorder, it typically takes about 12 minutes to fall asleep; the rapid eye movement(R.E.M) stage of sleep, so-called dream sleep, occurs after more than an hour of non-R.E.M. sleep. Clea’s test showed that she fell asleep almost immediately and quickly lapsed into R.E.M. sleep.
Drugs that stimulate the central nervous system are the primary treatment to help people with narcolepsy stay awake during the day. Doctors often try modafinil (Provigil) first for narcolepsy because it isn't as addictive as older stimulants and doesn't produce the highs and lows often associated with older stimulants.
Although not as common as the above symptoms, some patients may report performing habitual tasks while not being fully aware of it at the time. Sometimes, the patient may even fall asleep and continue an activity. This can be particularly dangerous if engaged in an activity such as driving or cooking.
In extreme cases, narcolepsy can cause a person to suddenly fall asleep during the day. These “sleep attacks” occur even after getting enough sleep at night. The unusual sleep pattern that people with narcolepsy have can affect school, work, and social life.
The most specific symptom is cataplexy, a sudden weakness of the muscles of the body, especially the legs but also the face and neck, that is brought on by strong emotion, especially laughing. Patients with narcolepsy may also have strange dreamlike experiences before falling asleep or waking up in the morning, and they may also have temporary paralysis of the body at the same time.
Sleepiness is often treated with amphetamine-like stimulants, while the symptoms of abnormal REM sleep (cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations) are treated using antidepressant compounds.
Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder. It is not caused by mental illness or psychological problems. It is most likely the end result of a number of genetic abnormalities that affect specific biologic factors in the brain, coupled with an environmental trigger such as a virus.