Falling Asleep without Warning
Narcolepsy is a disabling neurological disorder characterized by sleepiness and symptoms of abnormal REM sleep such as sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucination, cataplexy and, frequently, disturbed nocturnal sleep.
Narcolepsy and Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome (OSAS) are two conditions associated with excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).
Narcolepsy and Obstructive Sleep Apnea can occur together. Frequent daytime naps or lapses into sleep may be indicative of narcolepsy.
Narcoleptics, people with narcolepsy, may unwillingly fall asleep while at work or at school, when having a conversation, engaged in an activity or, most dangerously, when driving or operating other types of machinery. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) reports that untreated narcoleptics have a much higher accident rate with automobile accidents roughly 10 times more frequent than the general population.
Narcolepsy not diagnosed by a polysomnography (sleep study) can be misdiagnosed and symptoms may actually be the result of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Narcolepsy is most commonly diagnosed using nocturnal polysomnography and the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT).
Signs and Common Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
- Napping or dozing off several times a day
- Seeing or hearing things when you’re drowsy or entering dream-state before you’re fully asleep
- Suddenly feeling weak or losing control of your muscles when you’re laughing, angry, or experiencing other strong emotions
- Dreaming right away after going to sleep or having intense dreams
- Feeling paralyzed and unable to move when you’re waking up or dozing off