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naIs Narcolepsy a Life Threatening Sleep Disorder?

These days, narcolepsy one of the most common sleep disorders has already been familiar by many people. However, most people’s knowledge regarding what this problem is based on the things they see on movies. The commonly portrayed image of a person with narcolepsy is that it suddenly drops down to the floor and goes from a state of complete alertness to a state of complete sleep. After a few moments, the narcoleptic person then wakes up, without having any idea about him or her being asleep. However it is not quite similar with those seen on movies, since most narcoleptic people have difficulties with fatigue and daytime sleepiness, which may serve as signs and symptoms.

Narcolepsy Overview:

Narcoleptic Man Driving

Narcolepsy is a type of a neurological sleep disorder, which causes a person to constantly feel tired and drowsy. There are times that a narcoleptic falls asleep anywhere and anytime, although usually, before a narcoleptic falls asleep, he or she will feel signs and symptoms.

Symptoms of Narcolepsy:

  • Cataplexy – a sudden loss of muscle control.
  • Sleep Paralysis – a person is not able to speak or move for a short period (few seconds to a few minutes) during sleep to wake or wake to sleep transitions.
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Persistent Lack of Energy
  • Fatigue
  • Hypnagogic Hallucinations – approximately 50% of narcoleptics experience hypnagogic hallucinations. Hypnagogic hallucinations are dream-like experiences that occur during the transition from wakefulness to sleep state.

Dangers of Narcolepsy:

Narcolepsy itself is not dangerous or life threatening. What makes narcolepsy life threatening is if it is accompanied with a cataleptic attack. Cataleptic attacks can happen anywhere, anytime, and during any activities.

Cataleptic attacks cause a sudden collapse that can be potentially life threatening if it will happen during certain situations, including:

  • Driving a car
  • Going up or down the stairs
  • Crossing the street
  • When the person falls on her head during collapse
  • Swimming
  • Cooking

What to do during Cataleptic Attacks:

Narcoleptics should tell his or her family, friends, and colleagues on what to exactly do during an attack.

  • Make sure that the person is in a safe position, which is away from dangerous and hazardous things, such as sharp object, electrical appliances, corrosive chemicals, away from the stairs, and many more.
  • Make sure that there are no unnatural body positions. As much as possible, provide comfort to the person.
  • Do not do anything to wake the person up. Allow him or her to recover in his or her own time.

Having someone manage the situation during an attack can help in recovery and it can ensure safety to both the narcoleptic and the people around.