What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that impacts the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive sleepiness that includes uncontrollable instances of suddenly falling asleep during any activity at any time of day.

EISC sleep medicine specialist Dr. Andrew C. Peterson explains:

What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?

  • Impossible to keep from falling asleep during the day
  • Feeling sleepy even after a full night's sleep or shortly after a long nap
  • Hallucinations
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone
  • Temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up

How is narcolepsy diagnosed?

In order to diagnose narcolepsy, your doctor may recommend:

What treatment options are available?

The most common way of treating narcolepsy is with medication. Most doctors will prescribe a stimulant that helps an individual with narcolepsy stay awake during the day.


Video Transcription

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder which is a disorder of the regulation of the sleep/wake state. In sleep there’s several types asleep what we call non RAM sleep and slow-wave sleep and then REM sleep which is rapid eye movement sleep or dream sleep.

There’s a pattern to sleep people go down into these other state is that come up to RIM sleep every hour and a half. In narcolepsy the system that regulates this fades out and goes away and the state become disorganized. Narcoleptic sleep the same amount as normal people will occur several times across a day in an unregulated fashion. Similarly they have a lot of arousal at night were the sleep is fragmented.

Narcoleptics can have this tremendous need to fall asleep this is just overwhelming which really impacts daytime function, driving safety and so on. It’s important to sort out that there’s not something else causing this narcoleptic type symptoms that can happen but it’s really a very treatable disorder. It’s quite important to see a sleep position to get this sorted out if you have some of the narcoleptic symptoms.

Common ones being uncontrollable daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis where you wake up and can’t move. Cataplexy which is the paralysis of the dream state intruding into the waking state often triggered by laughing or crying people may feel weak and fall to the ground or just drop things. In the fourth one is we call is hallucination but is dream related imagery occurring. When you’re falling asleep or waking up since some dream supposed to take an hour and a half to show up, their currying is your fall asleep or waking up that’s forming abnormal. It is not a real common disorder, it is not that rare it is certainly very treatable in turns up often in the younger population.

Typically shows up in the teenage years but people may go ten years or more before it is diagnosis and it’s certainly a very treatable disorder.

Learn more about narcolepsy

Questions? Contact the Eastern Iowa Sleep Center today.