Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that involves excessive daytime sleepiness that was first identified by Jean Baptiste Edouard Gelineau in 1880. Narcolepsy is one kind of sleep disorders known as hypersomnias.In this condition the person experiences daytime sleepiness, it is not because he had not slept properly the previous night, or is suffering from insomnia or because of some sleep conditions, narcolepsy can affect the person  because of neurodegenerative disorders, stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumor in the brain, head trauma, and infection in the central nervous system .

A person affected by narcolepsy is thought to have symptoms of Automatic behaviour(routine or repeated actions), in this the person often does the tasks repeatedly that does not serve any purpose, while performing tasks the person often feel sleepy and fatigued, and tries to fight with his sleepiness being less aware of their actions, resulting in poor performance .It was identified that automatic behavior could occur on a daily basis with durations between a few seconds to several hours.Narcolepsy can cause serious disruptions in your daily routine.

Symptoms of narcolepsy

The symptoms of narcolepsy appear in childhood or adolescence

  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Asleep during normal activities
  • Weakness of the arms, legs, or trunk
  • experience hallucinations
  • disrupted night-time sleep
  • vivid nightmares
  • sudden loss of muscle tone((cataplexy) )
  • slurred speech
  • emotions such as surprise, laughter, or anger
  • inability to move
  • inability speak while falling asleep.

Causes of narcolepsy

Exact causes of narcolepsy is not known, however, according to studies the following factors could be taken into account for narcolepsy

  • Imbalance in chemicals produced by the brain that may signal sleep and wake cycles
  • Could be due to a deficiency in the production of a chemical called hypocretin by the brain.Hypocretin is an important neurochemical in the brain that helps regulate wakefulness and REM sleep.
  • Multiple abnormalities in various parts of the brain, that is responsible for regulating sleep.

Diagnosing narcolepsy

Based on your symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy), the doctor may follow the following procedure such as:

  • The doctor will ask you about your sleep pattern in detail to evaluate your degree of sleepiness.
  • The doctor will ask you to wear an actigraph wristwatch. (to measure the duration of your activity and rest and to measure of how and when you fall asleep)
  • The doctor may advise you to maintain a record of your sleep pattern and duration of your activities
  • Polysomnography test involves placing of electrodes on your scalp to measure a variety of signals during sleep, the test also measures the electrical activity of your brain (electroencephalogram) and heart (electrocardiogram) and the muscles movement (electromyogram) and eyes (electrooculogram). It also monitors the breathing.
  • Multiple sleep latency test is done to measure the time taken by you to fall asleep during the day.

Treatment includes: Narcolepsy cannot be cured but can be controlled by medications and lifestyle changes. Drugs such as modafinil (Provigil) or armodafinil (Nuvigil) are prescribed to help people with narcolepsy to be alert or awake during the day. Depending upon the intensity of the disorder, the doctor may prescribe medicines.

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