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  March 18 

Sleep Disorders: the Narcoleptic

"Narcolepsy - No Joking Matter" 


By: Terrence Gaddis   
The narcoleptic is an individual who suffers from a sleep related affliction that causes the sufferer to experience excessive, often spontaneous, bought of tiredness that are so extreme that they can completely incapacitate an individual. At times the malady is so severe that a person who is narcoleptic can literally experience REM sleep within 5 minutes of falling asleep. This normally takes up to an hour for most people.

There are 200,000 narcoleptics in America. It is estimated that there are another 150,000 additional who are as yet undiagnosed.

Statistically speaking, there are about 200,000 Americans that are narcoleptic. However, the disorder is difficult to diagnose. In fact, it is estimated that almost 150,000 cases have gone undiagnosed. The diagnosis is often difficult and this is demonstrated by the fact that it has been estimated that the time between original symptoms experienced and a correct diagnosis being made is fifteen (15) years in a normal case. This demonstrates how difficult it is to pinpoint a disorder like this. Demographically, a narcoleptic suffering occurs 1 in 2000 people, which makes it on a level equal to Parkinson ’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, and more prevalent than Cystic Fibrosis.

Common symptoms of narcolepsy involve excessive day time sleepiness (EDS) often during inappropriate times and places, in a spontaneous manner. But this is not the only indicator, simply a common one. Additional signs of this malady include such classic symptoms as these:

Cataplexy - a loss of muscle strength and function, sometimes precluded by emotional events like laughter, surprise, fear or anger
Sleep Paralysis - a temporary inability to talk or move
Hypnagogic Hallucinations - vivid, often terrifying dream-state hallucinations
Excessive Day-Time Sleepiness - a described above
Automatic Behaviors - an ability to continue physical, repetitive tasks while not being able to recall performing them
Most narcoleptics do not suffer from all the symptoms at once - only about one (1) in five (5) individuals experience all the symptoms listed above. The intensity if the symptoms also vary on a case by case basis, which in itself adds to some of the difficulty in diagnosing this disorder.

For years the cause of narcolepsy was not known, though the symptoms were understood. Over time it has become understood that the causes of this affliction may be related to HLA genes and the lack of protein producing neurons in the human brain. Recent studies in China have found some linkage to influenza infection and, especially H1N1 has set off narcoleptic symptoms in infected persons.

Frequent methods of diagnosing narcolepsy involve the use of various tools and approaches as the symptoms vary patient to patient. Some of the more fundamental tools of treatment are:
Polysomnogram - the measurement of brain waves and nerve response during sleep
Multiple Sleep Latency Testing - measurement of REM activity engagement during multiple sleeping periods during normal daytime hours
Edworth Sleepiness Scale - a questionnaire administered to potential narcoleptics, the answers which can indicate the occurrence of the disorder

Today's treatments for narcoleptic symptoms vary depending on the severity and number of symptoms. Stimulants that work on the central nervous system - like selegiline, modafinil, armodafinil - tend to be the foundation of treatment, but other practices like the use of short periods of sleep during the day are also used to mitigate the effects of the disorder. The medical and research community continue to work at developing additional treatments and methodologies to combat this condition.

Source: http://www.Go-to-Sleep.net

Terrence Gaddis has been fascinated with sleep maladies since suffering through a case of insomnia in his youth. From this time forward, he has studied all the causes, treatments and news about this phenomenon. 

Go-to-Sleep.net is a website dedicated to the study of sleep. Everything that you could want to to know about how to go to sleep, including: sleep disorders, causes, cures, and studies.

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A Good Sleep              

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book ~Irish Proverb