Do you find it hard to stay awake during the day? Or do you find yourself suddenly dozing off even when performing activities? If so, you may have narcolepsy.
What Is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder in which a person experiences excessive daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. There is no cure for this condition, and its symptoms are cataplexy, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and changes in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
There are two main types of narcolepsy, namely, type 1 and type 2. Those with type 1 narcolepsy experience cataplexy or a sudden loss of muscle tone, while those with type 2 narcolepsy do not. There is also a condition called secondary narcolepsy, which refers to narcolepsy developed after an injury to the hypothalamus.
Narcolepsy can have social and professional repercussions. Suffers can have difficulty keeping up with work responsibilities and keeping an active social life. Narcoleptics can also experience issues with metabolism and weight gain. Likewise, excess weight contributes to other sleep complications like obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Other effects of having narcolepsy are:
- Depression and anxiety
- Inattention and memory problems
- Physical harm as a result of extreme drowsiness when doing activities (like driving or working machinery)
- Interference with personal relationships
Causes Of Narcolepsy
The specific cause of narcolepsy are unknown. However, research shows that a combination of factors can cause the conditions. These factors include:
Shortage of Hypocretin
Hypocretin is a neurochemical that aids in regulating wakefulness and REM sleep. People with type 1 narcolepsy have lower levels of this chemical in their brains. Experts believe that this loss is caused by an autoimmune reaction. The weight gain associated with narcolepsy is also connected to this factor since hypocretin helps regulate appetite.
A family history can increase your likelihood of developing narcolepsy. About 10% of people with this condition have a close family relative who also has it.
Secondary narcolepsy is caused by damage to the hypothalamus. It is the small part of the brain near the pituitary gland that controls your circadian rhythm, the changes that your body follows in response to light and darkness of your environment. Damage to the hypothalamus can affect your sleeping patterns, putting you at risk for developing sleep disorders, like narcolepsy.
There are treatments that can help manage narcolepsy so you have less negative effects in your life. Researchers have found that treating symptoms and other conditions associated with narcolepsy can help manage the condition. Additionally, having a healthy and nutritional diet is an excellent strategy to manage weight and other symptoms associated with narcolepsy.
Sleep Specialist In North Texas
If you suspect you may nave narcolepsy, talk to a sleep medicine specialist. A sleep specialist can help diagnose and treat your sleep issue so you can find relief.
Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas have a wealth of experience treating sleep issues, including narcolepsy. Dr. Olusegun Oseni is a board-certified expert in sleep medicine. If you would like to get quality care for your sleep-related issue, see Dr. Oseni today.
To schedule an appointment, please call (817) 594-9993. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you soon!