What Are the Signs of Narcolepsy?

Is it more than just being tired?

We all feel exhausted from time to time. Maybe it was the CrossFit class we took, the fact that we worked out fasted, or perhaps we didn’t get a good night of sleep. Of course, it’s also important to recognize when your symptoms are more than just simply being tired. If you recognize these top five signs of narcolepsy, you should schedule a consultation with our Bradenton, FL, sleep medicine specialist Dr. Jeremy McConnell to confirm if you have narcolepsy.

What Is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes intense drowsiness or daytime sleepiness. While it’s not entirely clear what causes narcolepsy, it’s believed that genetics or a lack of the wakefulness brain chemical hypocretin could play roles.

What Are the Signs of Narcolepsy?

These are the five main signs of narcolepsy,

Excessive daytime exhaustion
This is the most classic symptom of narcolepsy that our Bradenton, FL, sleep team sees in all cases of narcolepsy. In fact, this is often the reason people come to our clinic to get tested for sleep issues. Individuals with narcolepsy have trouble staying awake during the day. They may feel intense periods of drowsiness or may require multiple naps during the day to function.

This is another common symptom associated with narcolepsy. Cataplexy causes a temporary and sudden loss of muscle control or muscle weakness as the individual experiences a sleep attack. This is often triggered during intense emotions such as anger or laughter. Cataplexy may lead to vision changes, slurred speech and a slumped-over position.

Hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations are another sign of narcolepsy. This involves seeing and hearing things that aren’t there either as you fall asleep or wake up. If the individual sees or hears things that aren’t there as they fall asleep, this is known as hypnagogic hallucinations; if they see or hear things upon waking, this is known as hypnopompic hallucinations. Someone with narcolepsy may experience one or both types of hallucinations.

Disrupted Sleep
Despite the intense drowsiness that a person with narcolepsy experiences throughout the day, it is common to experience restless sleep once they do fall asleep. Individuals may toss and turn regularly during the night or experience vivid nightmares.

Sleep Paralysis
Some people also experience bouts of sleep paralysis, in which they are temporarily unable to move or speak upon falling asleep or waking up. This usually lasts only a few seconds but can last several minutes, and while harmless, can be rather scary.

If you are nodding off a lot or having trouble staying awake, you may be surprised to discover that you have narcolepsy. To get the answers you deserve for a better night’s sleep, our Bradenton, FL, sleep team can help. Call Florida Sleep Specialists at (941) 792-8383 to schedule an evaluation with Dr. McConnell.