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What is Narcolepsy?

19-03-2012

Do you wake up feeling tired, are you tired all day no matter how much sleep you seem to get, do you suffer from random periods of sleep at inappropriate times during the day? Then maybe you have got narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep condition where people experience disturbed nocturnal sleep and abnormal daytime sleep patterns. It is often confused with insomnia but is quite different.

The main symptom of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness, even if the person feels like they’ve had a full night’s sleep. A sufferer will often fall asleep despite trying to stay awake, they have little or no power over when or where they will fall asleep. While these daytime naps are refreshing for several hours, it is not unusual for a narcoleptic to need a couple a day.

Scientists are unsure of exactly what causes this condition, though they have discovered a number of telltale genetic signals that indicate a person will be predisposed to narcolepsy.

Because narcoleptics fall into REM sleep far quicker than regular sleepers, a polysomnogram, which measures brain waves, is used as the main method of diagnosis.

Treatment generally involves stimulants taken during the day to keep the person awake, though these are used in conjunction with lifestyle changes.


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