Know the Signs of Narcolepsy

Your sleep specialist in Bradenton, FL, can help if you have a sleep disorder.

Narcolepsy is somewhat rare, but it still affects hundreds of thousands of people in this country, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Fortunately, your sleep specialist can help with diagnosing and treating narcolepsy. Dr. Jeremy McConnell at Florida Sleep Specialists in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL, offers comprehensive sleep care services for sleep disorders like narcolepsy.

So, what is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder during which your sleeping and waking processes are disrupted. Narcolepsy causes rapid eye movement or your REM sleep cycle to begin within minutes of falling asleep. The REM cycle normally occurs much later after falling asleep. As a result, normal sleep patterns are disrupted.

Narcolepsy can cause the following symptoms:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness is the main sign of narcolepsy
  • Automatic behaviors are actions the narcoleptic is unaware of doing
  • Nighttime sleep disruption like waking up several times during the night
  • Sleep paralysis is a feeling of inability to move
  • Sleep hallucinations including seeing vivid images when waking up or fall asleep
  • Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle control
  • Irritability or restlessness is most often seen in children with narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a potentially dangerous condition, especially if you are driving or operating machinery when a drowsiness episode occurs. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, narcoleptics are 3 to 4 times more likely to be in a car accident.

If you suspect you or someone you know might have narcolepsy, the first step is contacting your sleep specialist. Your doctor will take a full medical history, including your signs and symptoms, date of onset, and other factors. Sleep studies are often part of the initial diagnosis.

If narcolepsy is diagnosed, treatment can begin. There is no cure for narcolepsy, so the goals of treatment are to ensure patient safety, reduce symptoms, and improve quality of life. Treatment options include:

  • Behavioral modification, including taking short naps, developing a healthy exercise regimen, developing a sleep schedule, and avoiding alcohol and sedatives
  • Medication therapy, including medications to reduce daytime sleepiness, and reduce cataplexy

To find out more about the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy and how it is treated, talk with your sleep specialist. Call Dr. McConnell of Florida Sleep Specialists in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL, at (941) 792-8383. Get some relief from narcolepsy by calling today!