Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your wellbeing, both physical and mental. Your body and brain require good quality sleep in order to recover and recharge so that you can function well the next day and remain healthy. Unfortunately, a few conditions affect how much people sleep as well as the quality of their sleep. This, in turn, results in damaged physical and mental health.
Narcolepsy is a known sleep condition, which causes the individual to suffer from excessive sleepiness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and in more severe cases, cataplexy. This condition affects both men and women, and symptoms tend to manifest during childhood or adolescence. Diagnosis of this condition is not usually quick and patients can suffer from symptoms for a few years before this is recognized. In this article, we will discuss the signs of narcolepsy and how it affects the body.
The Signs of Narcolepsy
There are five main symptoms of Narcolepsy – however, people with this condition may not have all of these or suffer them on the same frequency. Each individual is unique and so it will be their own experience. Although understanding the main signs to look for remains important.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
The most common symptom experienced by people with Narcolepsy is sleeping way too much during the day. This symptom is called excessive daytime sleepiness. It may not come as a surprise seen as this condition affects sleep, therefore sufferers feel constantly tired and are unable to remain alert during the day. This also usually stops people from living a normal life as they do not have the energy that most of us do to undergo full days at work or social activities.
Cataplexy is characterized by a sudden inability to control your muscles and reduced consciousness. This sign does not affect every person who suffers from Narcolepsy, as studies estimate it affects just below 75% of narcoleptics, and it is generally triggered by emotions such as anger, laughter, or surprise.
A good percentage of those who suffer from this sleep condition, experience dreamlike hallucinations as they are falling asleep, and they are not usually pleasant and stop the individual from falling asleep.
Sleep Paralysis affects less than half of individuals with Narcolepsy and it can be a very scary experience for those who experience it. During this phase, people feel incapable of moving muscles or speaking as they transition between asleep and awaken states. Patients often also experience hallucinations as these happen, which can turn into night terrors for many.
The vast majority of people with Narcolepsy will suffer from sleep disruption, considering the signs we have previously discussed. Individuals often experience frequent awakenings and are unable to get good quality sleep. The professionals behind Sleep Authorities say that sleep is required for your wellbeing. Therefore, it is important that if you experience such disruptions, that you consult sleep experts, who provide reliable information online on how to deal with sleep issues. Ultimately, you should seek medical help in order to get adequate treatment to support you in obtaining a good night’s sleep.
How It Affects the Body
Feeling Exhausted and Low Energy
Individuals suffering from Narcolepsy, as discussed above, will not be able to experience a good night’s sleep. This is due to continuous sleep deprivation being suffered by these people. For this reason, their body will not be receiving the recovery rest it requires therefore people will be feeling very sleepy and even fall asleep during daily activities.
Loss of Muscle Control
As previously mentioned, one of the signs of Narcolepsy is the sudden loss of muscle control, which is what normally happens to muscles during REM sleep cycle. This is often manifested through a slack jaw, or weak arms and legs, even causing people to fall.
Loss of Awareness Between Dream and Reality
The unique symptoms of Narcolepsy, make it difficult for the individual to differentiate between sleeping and awakened states. This is worsened by the hallucinations and sleep paralysis that accompanies this sleep disorder and in which people experience vivid dreams.
Narcolepsy and the Brain
Narcolepsy has an impact on the structures in the brain that support us to remain awake. Usually, warning signs derive from the brain stem, a section deep in the brain in control of various elementary functions. These signs extend to all areas and “wake up” the rest of the brain. As this occurs, a group of cells in another section known as the hypothalamus generate the chemical hypocretin, which triggers and sustains the action of those alerting signs deriving from the brain stem. Individuals with Narcolepsy do not have the ability to produce hypocretin meaning that it is difficult for them to stay awake and experience vivid hallucinations as a result. This also has a negative impact on other essential hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which are required to reduce depression.
Living with Narcolepsy can be extremely difficult, as it will affect your overall lifestyle and your health. Learn what signs to look for and how it affects the body in order to recognize it – If you believe that you or a loved one are suffering from Narcolepsy, make sure you seek medical help to support you.