Narcolepsy

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Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. Sleepiness may interfere with any type of activity at any time of the day. People suffering from narcolepsy go into REM sleep very early in a sleep cycle and also sometimes during wake causing sleep to be fragmented and not refreshing.

Narcolepsy is the disease that is most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, it is a very important consideration in high school and college students as well as other young adults with significant excessive daytime sleepiness. The Sioux Falls sleep Center offers specific tools for screening and diagnosis of narcolepsy as well as the differentiation between other common sleep disorders for that age bracket.

Cause
There are no known causes for narcolepsy but scientists have made progress toward identifying genes strongly associated with the narcolepsy, and deficiency in hypocretin in the brain.

Symptoms
1. Excessive daytime sleepiness
2. Cataplexy: when a person suddenly feels weak and collapses at moments of strong emotion such as laughter, anger, fear or surprise.
3. Hallucinations: hypnagogic hallucinations when accompanying sleep onset and hypnopompic hallucinations when occurring during awakening.
4. Sleep paralysis: temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up.

Treatment
There is no cure for narcolepsy but treatment options to control symptoms continue to improve. Lifestyle adjustments can also help reduce symptoms such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and regulating sleep schedule. The pharmacological treatment mainly consists of a combination of stimulants with specific sleeping medications (Xyrem) geared at improving the symptoms of narcolepsy.