Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that affects the individual’s ability to control sleep and wakefulness. The condition is characterized by a person’s excessive daytime sleepiness and uncontrollable falling asleep during the daytime. The sudden sleep attacks can occur at any time of the day during activities. If you are driving or walking it can be dangerous if not life-threatening if you fall asleep.
In a normal sleep cycle, we start and enter the initial stage of sleep, followed by a deeper sleep stage and approximately after 90 minutes is the REM or rapid eye movement sleep. The REM stage is where a person will experience vivid dreams since the brain is active with the same intensity when awake. However, the muscles are paralyzed. In people with narcolepsy REM stage occurs immediately,
More often than not, narcolepsy is not diagnosed immediately. Some people learn to live with the disorder. Narcolepsy usually begins to affect individuals ages 15 to 25, but can become discernible at any age.
Experts can’t figure out what causes narcolepsy however, there are factors that can contribute highly to an individual to get the condition. Genes are thought to cause narcolepsy in a way that the genes affect the production of a brain chemical that is responsible for the sleep and wake cycle in human beings. Some findings also point out abnormalities in brain development, in this case, the region of the brain responsible for regulating sleep, can also cause narcolepsy.
The signs and symptoms of narcolepsy include:
EDS or Excessive daytime sleepiness.
The individual with EDS will find it hard to perform normal activities on a daily basis, whether he or she was able to have enough sleep at night. A patient affected with narcolepsy also reports that during the daytime, they experience mental cloudiness or poor concentration, depression, lack of interest and energy and tiredness.
Sudden loss of muscle tone
Also called cataplexy, affected individuals will lose muscle tone that will result in feelings of weakness and loss of muscle control.
Hallucinations can also be an experienced
Sleep paralysis is often experienced by all of us during the REM cycle of sleep or the deepest stage of the sleep cycle. Since people with narcolepsy immediately enters the stage of REM during a sleep cycle. The episode can usually last for a few seconds to several minutes.
If you think you are suffering from Narcolepsy you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Narcolepsy as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).