What is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder, stemming from the brain’s inability to regulate periods of sleep and wakefulness (Michael Breus, Ph.D., ABSM). Most of the time those who suffer from Narcolepsy will feel that they are rested and ready for the day but then will become extremely tired throughout the day and may fall asleep involuntarily.
Symptoms of Narcolepsy
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is exactly what it sounds like, being excessively tired regardless of how much sleep you've gotten.
Cataplexy is sudden muscle weakness and loss of voluntary muscle control. This can often times be brought on by strong emotions making it a difficult to deal with.
Sleep paralysis, hallucinations, fragmented sleep, insomnia, and automatic behaviors are also signs of narcolepsy.
When cataplexy is present it is almost always connected to extremely low levels of hypocretin. Hypocretin is a chemical that naturally occurs and promotes our feelings of wakefulness and regulars REM sleep. In cases without cataplexy, these levels are usually normal, however. What actually causes narcolepsy is not totally understood but autoimmune disorders, genetics, and in some rare cases brain injuries can be factors that lead to it.