Measuring Narcolepsy Symptoms
Many people with narcolepsy take short, regularly scheduled naps at times when they feel most sleepy. Improving the quality of sleep can combat excessive daytime sleepiness and help relieve persistent feelings of fatigue. Although doctors have long recognized the classic tetrad of narcolepsy symptoms, recent research suggests that disturbed sleep is also a common phenomenon in people with narcolepsy. In between 30 and 95% of patients, nocturnal sleep disturbance may be an independent symptom of narcolepsy, or it may be caused by another sleep disorder.
Doctors suspect narcolepsy when people with excessive daytime sleepiness have had episodes of muscle weakness. However, doctors can’t base the diagnosis on symptoms alone, as other conditions can cause some of the same symptoms. Sleep paralysis and similar hallucinations occasionally occur in healthy adults, in people who have been sleep deprived, Modafinil Online and in people with sleep apnea or depression. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug called modafinil for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness. Two classes of antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have been shown to be effective in controlling cataplexy in many patients.
Learn about the risk factors and symptoms of narcolepsy, along with how to get a diagnosis and what treatment options are available. The hallmark symptom of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness, in which a person falls asleep at times when they want to be awake. EDS may include daytime sleep attacks that occur with or without warning, persistent drowsiness, and fleeting moments of sleep that occur between a person’s waking state.
When we enter the REM phase of sleep, we dream and our body naturally paralyzes the muscles so that we do not carry out our dreams and may be injured while we sleep. But in people with narcolepsy, paralysis occurs at the wrong time, when they are awake or while falling asleep or just waking up. This last episode is called “sleep paralysis.” The symptom can be short, usually lasting only a few seconds or minutes, but it can make you helpless and extremely frightening. “This feeling of being awake but not being able to move can break down when someone touches you,” says Dr. Olson. Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. At different times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience fleeting urges to sleep.
The loss of hypocretin-producing neurons in the hypothalamus is the leading cause of narcolepsy type 1. These neurons are important for stabilizing sleep and wake states. When these neurons disappear, changes between wakefulness, REM sleep, and non-REM sleep can occur spontaneously. This results in sleep fragmentation and daytime symptoms experienced by people with narcolepsy.
Other side effects may include digestive problems, restlessness, headaches and insomnia. Close supervision by a doctor is necessary for those taking antidepressants and is also required if such therapy is withdrawn. Many people with narcolepsy experience weakness and sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone.
Although everyone is excessively sleepy during the day, only 10 to 25 percent of affected people will experience all other symptoms during their illness. People can reluctantly fall asleep even when they’re in the middle of an activity, such as driving, eating, or talking. It is clear that MSLT has outlived its purpose as a diagnostic test. First of all, as mentioned above, MSLT is reliable only for diagnosing NT1, i.e. cases with orexin/hypocretin deficiency and usually cataplexy. However, these cases are those where an MSLT is not helpful, as a simple blood test plus clinical understanding is usually sufficient to get a reliable diagnosis.
Analyzing sleep and wakefulness at home in real-life conditions would allow sleep doctors to objectively assess what is wrong with each patient. Differential patterns of “wakefulness” can also be identified, reflecting the fact that people cannot concentrate, are sleep deprived, in brain fog, etc. This would justify a really useful new classification of patients with narcolepsy type 2 or idiopathic hypersomnia.