A sleep disorder can be from abnormal sleeping patterns, or from not getting enough or too much sleep. The transition of sleeping to waking can bring on hallucinations and paralysis. Nightmares that happen while sleeping or seizures could be abnormal experiences. Some sleep disorders can affect some psychiatric disorders, medical or neurological disorders. Your breathing can be affected if you have a breathing related sleep disorder, while the neurological system is affected if you have a movement related sleep disorder.
Those diagnosed with narcolepsy generally do not sleep more than the average person. The only difference is that the brain of a narcoleptic patient’s brain is unable to control the boundaries between waking and sleeping states. Narcoleptic patients will go immediately into the dreaming state of sleep, referred to as REM, skipping over the light stage of sleep. This will create them to experience parts of their REM sleep throughout their waking hours. There is danger in this for the patient by potentially experiencing these fragments of REM sleep while doing something involving their attention and focus. For example, driving or operating heavy machinery.
According to the Narcolepsy Network, one in every two thousand people struggle with narcolepsy. There is no exact answer as to what can bring this on, though there are some factors, such as stress, changes in sleep patterns or hormones, genetics, infection, and more.
Another part of understanding narcolepsy is that it can mimic ADHD, pyschiatric, and neurological disorders. Excessive daytime sleepiness, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis are some symptoms of narcolepsy. Cataplexy is unique and one of the more noticeable symptoms of this sleep disorder. This is where a person is fully awake though they have a sudden loss of muscle tone, that is usually triggered by some type of emotion.
Prana Health has substantial experience and specializes in evaluating and treating adult or pediatric narcoleptic patients. We perform multiple sleep latency tests and we can order CSF hypocretin, when required. There are a wide variety of medications that can be used for treatment, but we will help evaluate which is best suited for you or your child.