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Excessive sleepiness, hallucinations and sleep paralysis are all characteristics of narcolepsy, a chronic neurological disorder that makes it difficult for the brain to control sleep-wake cycles. (1) This disorder adversely affects the quality of life as symptoms include extreme drowsiness and falling asleep unwillingly during an activity like work or school.
In fact, research indicates after diagnosis, the burden extends beyond the life-altering physical symptoms and includes an adverse impact on mental health as well as economic worries due to work impairment and absenteeism. Presenteeism, a recognized term for workers not fully present and high-functioning due to a medical condition or illness, is also acknowledged for individuals with this condition. (2, 3)
The National Institute of Health estimates that somewhere between 135,000 and 200,000 people in the United States have this neurological disorder, but warn that this complicated neurological condition often goes undiagnosed, or is simply misdiagnosed and that the estimation of cases may be significantly higher.
Symptoms including overwhelming fatigue and sleepiness, often start during childhood or adolescence, but individuals of any age can be affected by this life-long illness. There is no cure for this disorder, and even researchers agree that currently available conventional treatments are “imperfect,” and more research is needed. (4)
One of the leading researchers is Dr. Emmanuel Mignot from the Stanford Center for Narcolepsy. The Stanford University team has found that this condition is an autoimmune disease that can follow a case of the flu and they are continually striving to discover which immune cells are responsible for the attack, with the goal of stopping or preventing this disease from developing.
Managing the symptoms can help to improve quality of life. Effective natural treatments that support physical and mental wellness include exercise, supplements, a healthy diet free from allergens, and lifestyle changes — even something as simple as a mid-day nap can help. Finding the right treatment for children and adults alike and learning effective coping mechanisms is imperative.
What Is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that can dramatically disrupt life and daily routines. This condition makes it very difficult to stay awake for long periods — regardless of the occasion or circumstances. Individuals may fall asleep while driving, during an examination at school, during a meeting a work, while cooking a meal or participating in a team sport.
Cataplexy is fairly common and often co-occurs with this neurological condition. This condition causes uncontrollable muscle paralysis or weakness that seems to be triggered by strong emotions, generally happy ones. When cataplexy strikes, a person may be laughing with friends and, all of a sudden, their knees buckle, or they become unable to move their face, arms or legs. Episodes such as this often only last…
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