Narcolepsy - When Sleep Is Not Optional
Imagine feeling that way EVERY DAY. Imagine that at some time during the day, you know that you're going to have to fight to stay awake. At some point during the day, you may even have an overwhelming urge to sleep, which means you'll have to drop whatever you're doing and sleep.
Even if you're driving.
Even if you're eating.
Even if you're in the middle of a conversation with your boss at work.
That's just part of what narcolepsy is. Now for the clinical definition:
From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders:
"Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience fleeting urges to sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, patients fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer.
Narcoleptic sleep episodes can occur at any time, and thus frequently prove profoundly disabling. People may involuntarily fall asleep while at work or at school, when having a conversation, playing a game, eating a meal, or, most dangerously, when driving an automobile or operating other types of potentially hazardous machinery. In addition to daytime sleepiness, three other major symptoms frequently characterize narcolepsy: cataplexy, or the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone; vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening; and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep."
For my husband, it's a daily battle to live his life - always tired. Running errands, working, interacting with his family, even eating or getting dressed - all take an extreme amount of effort because he's fighting that urge to sleep. It's exhausting - no pun intended.
Interestingly, I'd always assumed that Narcoleptics get plenty of sleep. Wrong! Most don't sleep well at all. In fact, my husband is never able to sleep the whole night through. He is awakened in the middle of the night and finds it difficult to get back to sleep before dawn, even if he reads or just lays quietly.
I really appreciated Eddie Batha's description of life with Narcolepsy.
My definition of Narcolepsy: UGH!
Medications Commonly Used to Treat Narcolepsy
Last updated: April 2016