Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder where the brain cannot regulate cycles of sleep or consciousness.
It affects 1 out of every 2000 Americans.
Narcolepsy causes "excessive sleepiness" - where the person has trouble normally functioning due to sleepiness.
Jean-Baptiste-Edouard Gélineau diagnosed this disorder in 1880 and named it narcolepsy. He observed how intense emotional moments related to sleeping episodes .
The cause is not known, but sometimes the body's immune system can accidentally attack the brain cells involved in controlling the body's sleep cycle.
Scientists think that genes that are responsible for producing chemicals (that signal sleep and awake cycles) are deficient. The chemical hyprocretin is not being produced as much which may also link to this sleep disorder.
Abnormalities in different parts of the brain that control REM sleep cause symptom development over time.
The brain cannot regulate sleep cycles so when the body gets tired, the peripheral nervous system weakens and cannot function accordingly.
Narcolepsy seems to be a result of genetic abnormality.
Narcolepsy is manageable despite the fact there is no cure for it. Chemotherapy and ephedrine and methylphenidate (stimulants) to prevent sleep episodes from happening at the wrong times.
Mortality rate depends because this neurological disease doesn't cause death unless it causes a sleep episode during an event such as driving.
Hallucinations due to sleepiness.
Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) - disturbs daytime concentration and functioning.
Sleep paralysis - temporary "paralyzed" state while falling asleep or waking up.
Loss of muscle tone leading to the lack of voluntary muscle control. Slurred speech and total body collapse can be often caused by sudden emotion (anger, laughter, surprise, etc).
There is no cure for Narcolepsy, but there are some treatments that can help with the symptoms.
-Counseling and support groups
Many people with Narcolepsy suffer from depression. Reaching out helps feelings of isolation
Schedule your sleep periods, avoid caffeine/alcohol/nicotine, involve your employers/coworkers/friends with your condition, break up larger tasks into smaller ones, exercise on a regular basis, avoid activities that would be dangerous during a sleep attack, eat a healthy diet, relax and manage emotions
Stimulants, sodium oxybate (Xyrem)(aka "date rape" drug), antidepressants
Studies are currently taking place to find what causes Narcolepsy. Skin biopsies can be used to create cells similar to brain cells so researchers can find out why those cells die and figure out how to keep them healthy and alive. Genetic studies and hypocretin measurement studies are also actively looking for what causes Narcolepsy.