Understanding Narcolepsy – Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder whose early symptoms are characterized by unbearable drowsiness during the day, then generally continue with sleep or sleep attacks unexpectedly without knowing the time and place.
A narcolepsy is actually a group of long-term brain disorders. This condition is somewhat rare. Narcolepsy usually begins in adolescence and early twenties.


Diagnosis of Narcolepsy

In addition to the physical examination and medical history of patients, there are two very important tests performed in cases of narcolepsy, ie night polisomnography examination and multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) performed during the day. Both of these tests are performed in clinics or hospitals with related expert guidance.

In a polysomnography test, the doctor will combine some other tests by placing electrodes on the skin surface to determine the signals that occur during sleep, including monitoring the breathing. For example, combined with an electrocardiogram to know electrical activity in the heart, electroencephalogram to know the electrical activity in the brain, electrooculogram to know the movement of the eye, and electromyogram to know the movement of muscles of the body.

Through polysomnography tests, some abnormalities in the sleep cycle can be known, one of which is the rapid eye movement (REM) that occurs at an abnormal time. Also, the polysomnographic examination will also allow doctors to know if symptoms are not caused by conditions other than narcolepsy.

While on the MSLT test, the doctor will measure the length of time required for the patient to sleep. If the patient can sleep easily and enter the REM phase quickly, then the patient is likely to suffer from narcolepsy.

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

In addition to the emergence of daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks, people with narcolepsy can also experience these symptoms.

  • Cataplexy or weakening of the muscle suddenly that can be marked with the legs feel weak, head limp and jaw dropped, vision is not focused, and talk lisp. This loss of muscle control is temporary and is usually triggered by certain emotions, such as shock, anger, pleasure, or laughter. The frequency of the occurrence of cataplexy in people with narcolepsy vary, some may experience it several times a day, and some are only one or two times a year. Each condition lasts a few seconds to several minutes.
  • Headache.
  • Memory Disorders.
  • Hallucinating.
  • Paralysis or sleep paralysis that is marked by the body is difficult to move as it is paralyzed. This phenomenon usually occurs when we will begin to fall asleep or when about to wake up.
  • Depression.


The development of narcolepsy symptoms in patients can last quite briefly for several weeks or maybe slow for several years.

Treatment of Narcolepsy

Actually there is no single drug that can cure narcolepsy. Drugs available today can only relieve or control the symptoms for the daily activities of the sufferer is not disturbed.
For example, to treat uncontrolled daytime symptoms of sleepiness, stimulant drugs such as modafinil and methylphenidate may be prescribed. These drugs can help people with narcolepsy to stay awake during the day by stimulating the central nervous system.
Other examples are the administration of antidepressants (e.g., clomipramine and imipramine), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSFs), and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) (e.g., venlafaxine) to overcome the symptoms of cataplexy or loss of muscle control.
Especially for SSRI and SNRI, but can be used to control cataplexy, this drug can also be prescribed to overcome the symptoms of sleep paralysis and hallucinations.

In addition to drugs, you can also do the following tips at home to get quality sleep at night so daytime sleepiness can be reduced, including Do things that can relax the mind before bed, such as reading or bathing hot water.

  • Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, or eat large portions of food before bed.
  • Create an atmosphere and set room temperature as comfortable as possible.
  • Try to sleep and wake up at the same hour every day.
  • Exercise regularly a few hours before bedtime.

To feel sleepiness during the day can be controlled, try to hold the sleep when it appears at the wrong time and sleeps at times that you have to adjust to the daily routine. Also, do not take drugs that can aggravate drowsiness, such as allergy medicines or cold medication. If you are a narcolepsy sufferer who happens to be experiencing these two conditions, ask for a prescription for a doctor who has no sleeping side effects.

Cause of Narcolepsy

The cause of narcolepsy is caused by the low production of hormones in charge of regulating sleep, namely hypocretin or original, due to autoimmune disorders or due to diseases and injuries that damage the brain as the organ that produces the hormone.
Here are the conditions that can trigger a person affected by autoimmune disorders that can ultimately lead to narcolepsy.

  • Hormonal changes, especially during puberty or menopause
  • Genetic defects
  • Streptococcal infection
  • Flu infection

What causes Narcolepsy

Here are some factors that can damage the part of the brain producing hypocretin.

  • Brain tumor
  • Head injury
  • Disease encephalitis
  • Multiple sclerosis diseases

In addition to all the things mentioned above, sudden sleep patterns change and severe psychological stress are also believed to increase a person’s risk of narcolepsy.

Complications of Narcolepsy

Here are the possible effects of narcolepsy:

  • Obesity due to lack of movement and frequent sleep.
  • Injury when drowsiness comes in improper situations (e.g., while you’re driving).
  • Negative judgments from the social environment (for example you are labeled a slacker) and broken relationships with others.

To overcome obesity, you must force yourself to do tips in the treatment of regular exercise. To prevent injury, do not drive or operate dangerous machinery if you are suffering from narcolepsy. And to overcome a bad judgment of the social environment, explain to the people around you that you are a narcolepsy sufferer.

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