Many people experience times of sleepiness throughout the day. Narcolepsy, however is a a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brains' inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. People with narcolepsy may experience irresistible bouts of sleep throughout the day. If this “urge” becomes overwhelming , the narcoleptic individual will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. There are rare cases that the individual may fall asleep for an hour or longer. In addition to Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) people with narcolepsy may also frequently experience:

  • Cataplexy (the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone)
  • Vivid Hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening
  • Brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep

Treatment for Narcolepsy

There is no cure to this day for Narcolepsy, however, clinical trial results done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug called modafinil for the treatment of EDS.

The following have proven effective in treating cataplexy

  • Tricyclics (imipramine, desipramine, clomipramine and protripyyline)
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (fluoxtine and sertraline)
  • Xyrem (treating cataplexy and narcolepsy)

Drug therapy should be supplemented by behavioral strategies such as short, regular scheduled naps when patients feel sleepiest. Improving the quality of night-time sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bedtime may also be beneficial.

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