Narcolepsy and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Narcolepsy is a serious, but relatively uncommon, disorder
characterized by sudden and uncontrollable attacks of sleep.
These attacks can be brief - lasting just 30 seconds - or
longer, lasting as long as 30 minutes or more. Sometimes
the attacks are accompanied by hallucinations and/or temporary
paralysis. Narcolepsy can be quite debilitating, causing
lack of muscle control and dream experiences occurring at
Sufferers often unexpectedly fall asleep in the middle
of important activities, including driving and while playing
sports. This can be quite dangerous for themselves and others.
In addition, they can fall asleep during conversations and
at work, harming their personal and professional relationships.
Those with Narcolepsy often experience a temporary paralysis,
which can be physically harmful if they fall down, and also
very frightening when it occurs.
Research to date reveals that Narcolepsy appears to affect
the part of the central nervous system that controls sleep
and wakefulness and that it is not a psychological disorder.
While there is no "cure" yet, recent advances
in medicine, technology and pharmacology allow those with
Narcolepsy to lead nearly normal lives. The finding that
the Brain Protein called Orexin or Hypocretin is deficient
in patients with Narcolepsy by leading researchers, including
our own, is bringing hope of a cure. The doctors at the
Sleep Medicine group of sleep centres are actively pursuing
Diagnosing Narcolepsy needs to be done in a clinic that
is familiar with sleep medicine. The patient's complete
medical history is considered and the patient is given a
thorough physical examination. Most often, patients are
also given two tests, a polysomnogram and a multiple sleep
latency test (MSLT) to confirm a suspected diagnosis and
also to determine the extent of the Narcolepsy.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) is an essential part
of the diagnosis of Narcolepsy but may have a variety of
other causes including Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), Restless
Legs Syndrome (RLS), Circadian Rhythm Disorder and the syndrome
of Primary Hypersomnolence.
The symptom of EDS is important because it is associated
with feeling drowsy and tired; having an overwhelming need
to sleep during the day, being unable to stay awake in the
daytime, even after getting a good night's sleep and falling
asleep at times you need to be fully awake and alert.
It could mean ineffective work performance or dangerous
levels of driving or other activities and, interference
with a person's ability to concentrate or perform daily
tasks or routines. Some people affected by EDS often feel
frustration and anger about being misunderstood and being
regarded as unintelligent or not interested in personal
growth or learning. They often have low self-esteem and/or
poor personal relationships as a result.
The Sleep Medicine group of sleep centres are actively
engaged with research and treatment of Narcolepsy and other
causes of EDS. If you require further information please