Are you overwhelmed with daytime drowsiness? Do you also suddenly fall asleep at random times throughout the day? You might be suffering from narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder.
Narcolepsy is often misunderstood but considering it impacts the lives of 135,000 to 200,00 Americans it’s important to know what it is and what you can do about it. To better understand this sleep disorder, we take a closer look at everything you should know about narcolepsy, including the common symptoms, causes, how it’s diagnosed, and what treatment options are available.
What Is Narcolepsy?
So, what is narcolepsy exactly? In short, narcolepsy is “a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control sleep-wake cycles,” says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders. While narcolepsy sufferers may feel rested after waking, they can also feel extremely sleepy for most of the day.
In regular sleep cycles, we typically go through a series of stages before entering rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which usually occurs about an hour to 90-minutes after falling asleep. However, those with narcolepsy often enter REM sleep much earlier, within minutes after falling asleep. This is caused by changes in the brain that disrupt sleep cycles.