Narcolepsy Without Cataplexy
Day to day human life cycle involves two phase of consciousness: wakefulness and sleep. After a long tiresome day doing your normal daily activities, you need to take a nap to allow your body to rest and refresh. Sometimes you may even find yourself dozing off at work, at school or when traveling back home. However, to most people, when they are awake then they are actually awake and when they are asleep then they are actually asleep.
However there are people who live with a condition where they hardy feel that they are fully awake or asleep. They are usually in a perpetual state where their life is caught between the two. This is the reality that people suffering from narcolepsy without cataplexy have to deal with on a daily basis.
What exactly is narcolepsy without cataplexy?
Narcolepsy without cataplexy is a neurological disorder where the brain is unable to control wakefulness and sleep cycles and cataplexy. People with this condition usually suffer from chronic day time sleepiness where they fall asleep unexpectedly. Episodes of sleep attacks can occur anytime regardless of the activity that a person is undertaking. This means that sleep attacks are not only limited to instances where a person is bored, idle or alone. It can happen even when a person is in a middle of a conversation, when doing school assignment, when playing sports, when driving and even when eating.
Statistic has revealed that at least 1 in 2000 people suffer from narcolepsy, making it one of the most rampant sleep disorder. Under normal circumstances, sleep usually occur in two stages. It usually start by light sleep then slowly progress to deep sleep. The early sleeping stage is referred to as non-rapid eye movement (NREM).
After sleeping for about one hour it progresses to the next stage that is referred to as rapid eye movement (REM).Dreaming usually occur at this stage. Studies have shown that people usually experience multiple cycles of NREM and REM with 75% of sleep occurring in NREM. However that is not the case for people suffering from narcolepsy.
Their REM cycles usually begins almost immediately after falling asleep the process occur involuntarily mostly during normal working hours. However, it is important to note that people suffering from this sleep disorder don’t sleep much more than a normal person. In fact, studies have shown that people with narcolepsy usually sleep almost for the same amount of time that a normal person sleep. The main difference is that they are unable to control the timing of their sleep.
Main symptoms of narcolepsy without cataplexy
Excessive sleepiness during daytime
This is a very common symptom that people suffering from this condition show. Narcolepsy without cataplexy is usually characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and in most cases, the episodes of sleepiness are usually involuntary. Episodes of sleep attacks can last few second to several minutes depending on the situation that the victims find him/herself in. Many people suffering from this condition have said that episode of sleep attacks are usually as a result of mental exhaustion, depression, lack of concentration and low energy levels. Sleep attacks usually occur even if the person slept for recommended hours the night before.
Individuals with this condition usually experience frequent episodes of hallucinations especially when they waking form sleep or when they are just about to sleep.
Sleep paralysis is a condition where a person is unable to move or speak when falling asleep. The victim is usually aware of the surrounding but not able to move or speak because the body is still in REM sleep. The good news is that this condition usually last only for a few minutes and does not have any permanent effects to the victim.
Disturbed nocturnal sleep
It may sound wired that people suffering from narcolepsy usually have trouble sleeping at night. Just the way people suffering from this condition have trouble staying awake during the day, they also have a difficult time trying to stay asleep during the right. They can wake up several times during the night with no clear reason. Their seep is usually disturbed by things such as sleep talking, insomnia, periodic leg movement, vivid dreaming among many others.
Causes of narcolepsy without cataplexy
Various clinical studies conducted have not yet established the main cause of this condition. However, scientist have made significant progress in identifying neurotransmitters that are believed to be strongly associated with this disorder. It has been found that patients suffering from this condition have reduced levels of neurotransmitter hypocretin that is believed to help promote wakefulness. It has been established that narcolepsy patients have 80-90% less hypocretin producing neutrons when compared to patients who are not suffering from this disorder. However, the exact cause of less of hypocretin producing cell is not yet known.
Diagnosis and treatment
When you visit a physician will conduct various tests to ascertain if you are indeed suffering for narcolepsy. However for comprehensive tests, specialized equipment are used. Two crucial tests that the physician will conduct include multiple sleep latency test and polysomnogram.
Multiple sleep latency test is a study that is conducted by the physical during the day to measure how often you sleep during the day and the intensity of the sleep. On the other hand, polysomnogram is a study that is usually conducted overnight using specialized equipment to monitor the patient’s heart rate, brain activity, body movement, blood pressure among many others.
Currently, there is no actual cure for this condition. However with proper diagnosis, many symptoms can be treated. The physician may recommend the use of drugs or recommend the patient to make life changes. Common drugs used include antidepressants, stimulants and sodium oxybate. Recommended lifestyle changes include keeping a consistent sleeping schedule, taking several naps during the day, exercising regularly avoiding alcoholic beverages among many others.