More than 500,000 Americans suffer from narcolepsy, a neurological disorder, which is a life-long illness with symptoms developing as early as puberty. Narcolepsy is generally characterized by sudden and uncontrollable sleep attacks. Because the attacks can occur anywhere anytime, they can be very dangerous, even life-threatening.
Some symptoms are:
• Excessive daytime sleepiness.
• Uncontrollable sleep attacks.
• Cataplexy- a sudden loss of muscle tone or muscle weakness usually triggered by extreme emotions, such as fear, anger, elation, surprise, even laughter.
• Automatic behavior – performing tasks without consciously thinking. The person then is unable to recall details of having done the task.
• Sleep paralysis – inability to move upon falling asleep or waking up.
• Hypnagogic hallucinations – vivid, hallucination-like, dream-like experiences which occur between wakefulness and sleep.
You do not have to have all of these symptoms to have narcolepsy. Proper diagnosis of narcolepsy requires a visit to a professional sleep center for an evaluation and sleep study. Treatment involves a combination of medication, educational support, and personal care.
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