Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder where the brain has troubles regulating sleep and wake cycles properly. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and have sudden urges to sleep during the day. People with narcolepsy may also suffer muscular weakness when experiencing anger, surprise, amusement, terrifying dreams or a feeling of paralysis when falling asleep or awakening. This disorder begins in young adulthood and lasts a lifetime.
Most people sleep for about 8 hours and have 4-6 sleep cycles. During these cycles, the body goes from a lighter sleep or non-rapid eye movement to a deeper sleep called rapid eye movement (REM). For narcolepsy patients, REM happens much sooner in the sleep cycle as well as periodically throughout the day.
It’s still unclear what causes narcolepsy and there is no cure. However, there are treatments that can help control some of the symptoms of narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is difficult to diagnose by symptoms alone because many of the symptoms are not exclusive to this condition. Doctors at the Sleep Center use several specialized tests to confirm the diagnosis of narcolepsy.