Narcolepsy Sleep Disorder Signs & Symptoms


woman with narcolepsy sleep disorder 

Narcolepsy Sleep Disorder


Sleeping is something you need to do everyday. While you sleep your body cycles through stages of NREM and REM. NREM is when your body kicks in to self -repair mode and starts to heal wear and tear on your body. REM is when you dream.


Sleeping helps you recharge and refresh yourself for the next day. For some it’s as easy as putting on their PJ’s and climbing into bed and for others it’s the beginning of a very stressful and exhausting battle of trying to get your mind and body to work together so they can go to sleep.


People complain of either not being able to fall asleep and maintain the sleep state and others complain that they don’t wake up feeling refreshed with new energy. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia, Narcolepsy and Restless Leg Syndrome.


Narcolepsy is a rare sleeping disorder that causes extreme daytime sleepiness for people who struggle to sleep. It’s not the same as people who can’t sleep because they’ve been watching too much TV, they have depression, sleep apnoea, snoring or any restlessness.


The cause of Narcolepsy is a malfunction in the brain structure called the hypothalamus. Most people with Narcolepsy have low levels of hypocretin (neurotransmitter) which controls the wakefulness state and contributes to the development of symptoms that interact to cause neurological dysfunction and REM sleep irregularities. There are a combination of factors that trigger Narcolepsy.


Narcolepsy Symptoms include:


  • Mental cloudiness
  • Depressive moods
  • Lack of energy and focus
  • Exhaustion


Distinctive Characteristics Of Narcolepsy Include:


  1. EDS
  2. Cataplexy
  3. Hallucinations
  4. Sleep Paralysis


EDS is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. It’s caused by sleep deprivation. When a person doesn’t get enough sleep, it’s a broken and disturbed sleep or they have changed their sleep routine significantly such as shift workers, it results in sleep deprivation. It takes more than one good nights rest to make up for the amount of sleep lost. Sleep deprivation can also been cause by chronic pain, restless leg syndrome and stress. EDS interferes with a person’s daily activities because they are always extremely tired.


Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle tone and strength. Cataplexy can result in the whole body collapsing, feelings of weakness in the body and loss of voluntary muscle control. The loss of muscle control only lasts a few minutes and it is also when the person is conscious. It can be triggered by intense emotions.


Hallucinations are vivid and delusional experiences. Hallucinations can be purely visual or can include the other senses, which can make it a much more intense and frightening experience. These types of hallucinations occur upon falling asleep, called hypnagogic hallucinations or when upon awakening, called hypnopompic hallucinations.


Sleep Paralysis is when a person falls asleep and their mind wakes up before their body and they can’t move their body. It is also accompanied by visions and hypnagogic hallucinations and hypnopompic hallucinations.


A person who suffers with Narcolepsy has repeated attacks of falling asleep involuntarily and unpredictable times. This disorder can develop at any age in lie and is treated with medication for sleepiness and for abnormal REM. This includes medications with amphetamine type stimulants to keep the person awake and antidepressant type medication to help with sleeping and REM.


When people have Narcolepsy they usually have it for life. Non-medical things to help with sleeping include making some changes to your lifestyle and reducing stress levels.


Diagnosing Narcolepsy Sleep Disorder


If you think you may have Narcolepsy you can find out by seeing your doctor and requesting a Multiple Sleep Latency Test to measure daytime sleepiness during four to five naps of 20 minutes. The test can show if there is any early disruption to REM sleep. The other test that will be carried out is a Polysomnogram. There is a medical history and physical examination that will also be done to determine if you have Narcolepsy.


The Multiple Sleep Latency test measures a person’s tendency to fall asleep and determines if REM sleep is happening at the right time.  The PSG test is an overnight test and it takes continuous multiple measurements of abnormalities that may occur during your sleep cycles.


Treatment For Narcolepsy Sleep Disorder


If you have minor symptoms, there are other coping skills you can try to help you sleep better including progressive relaxation techniques, massage and hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is one of the best treatments for sleeping disorders because it works with the unconscious mind, and the mind body connection.


Hypnotherapy allows direct access to the part of your mind that stores all your automatic behavior, how you think, feel and react. Reprogramming with hypnotherapy is a safe and effective treatment to help people to retrain their brain to sleep. You really must see a doctor first if you have severe symptoms.


Other Conditions That Cause Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Include:


  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Snoring
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Diet
  • Medication side effects
  • Relationship issues
  • Alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Changes in sleeping environment
  • Grief and loss
  • Excessive stimulation from TV, computer, study


If you need some sleep correcting your sleep patterns and want to retrain your brain to sleep better, book an appointment for hypnotherapy and you can look forward to catching up on your sleep.


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Mirella DeBoni

Relationship Counselling Specialist, Clinical Hypnotherapist, #1 International Best Selling Author

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