Narcolepsy is a rare disease that affects at least one person in a population of 2000. It is characterized by overwhelming and sudden attacks of drowsiness which can happen at any time and for a certain period of time. The frequency of the attacks will vary from patient to patient. Narcolepsy can make it difficult to carry out normal day routines.
This is due to the abrupt sleep attacks as well as some of the symptoms one experiences. In terms of age, narcolepsy is common among individuals from as young as 10 years old to 30 years old. However, some people may develop the condition when they are much older, although it is a rare occurrence. (1)
How To Catch Narcolepsy In The Initial Stages?
In the initial stage of narcolepsy you will experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and fragmented night sleep. EDS involves experience an uncontrollable urge to sleep, which can happen at anytime and anywhere. The sleep attacks can happen when you are eating, driving, talking to other people, walking, and working or even in a meeting. After an episode of EDS, an individual will feel very refreshed, but then again, another sleep attack can occur after a very short period of being awake. As a result of excessive daytime sleepiness, individuals with narcolepsy may also experience fragmented night sleep. This is due to the disruption in their sleep patterns, which can result in difficulties falling asleep at night. (1)
Rapid eye movement sleep is when dreaming takes place for any normal human being. In the case of people with narcolepsy, the REM sleep may occur before the nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, shortly after falling asleep. In other words, people with narcolepsy transition to REM sleep much faster than normal people. Needless to say, individuals may also experience REM sleep during the day, when they are having an episode of EDS. (1)
Other Ways To Catch Narcolepsy
Individuals with narcolepsy may exhibit cataplexy, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis, automatic behavior, and mental fogginess. Obstructive sleep apnea is also a possible symptom, which is a condition where breathing starts and stops throughout the night. Cataplexy is a condition where you have muscle weakness, which can lead to certain physical changes. The muscle weakness can last for a few minutes and some of the side effects one may experience include slurred speech, drooping of the eyelids, and at worse full body collapse. Cataplexy can be caused by intense emotions such as laughter, being surprised, anger and even fear. (1) (2)
Hallucinations can occur when either falling asleep or when waking up. The hallucinations are usually vivid and frightening. For example, imagining there is a stranger in your room or shadows looming around your room or any other form of nightmare. Sleep paralysis involves your muscles being inanimate, meaning you cannot move. In people with narcolepsy, sleep paralysis occurs when they are not entirely asleep which can cause one to be frightened. Sleep paralysis is usually brief and people recover fast from it physically. At times, individuals will experience hallucinations and sleep paralysis at the same go, which intensifies the effects cause by these symptoms. (1)
Automatic behavior is when one totally forgets having done something prior to a sudden sleep attack. For example, you might have been working on a project, reading a book, driving, writing, or performing any other task and continue with it while asleep. However, on waking up, you cannot quite remember what you actually did or how you actually did it. Mental fogginess is also common in individuals with narcolepsy. This usually stems from concentration and memory problems. Due to the period of EDS, which usually happen abruptly and uncontrollably, an individual may experience gaps in their memory. Nonetheless, if one does have an automatic behavior symptom, then it is highly likely that they will not remember what they did after having an EDS attack. (1) (2)
Narcolepsy is not an easy condition to live with considering the adverse effects it can have on an individual. In addition to that, it disrupts normal activities that one is accustomed to. You can catch narcolepsy in initial stages by observing the signs of excessive daytime sleepiness, fragmented night sleep and early transition to REM sleep. Despite the severity of these symptoms in some individuals, they can be controlled with drug treatment, separately, as well as making modifications to one’s lifestyle.
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