Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by unbearable sleepiness during the day or sleeps suddenly without knowing the time and place. This disorder is actually a group of long-term neurological disorders.
This condition is rare and usually begins in adolescence and early twenties. Sleepiness is indeed a normal sensation when we are tired or sleeps derived. However, the excessive sleepiness may be hinting at a more severe condition, narcolepsy.
This sleep disorder may be caused by the low production of hormones in charge of regulating sleep, hypocretin or orexin. This happens due to autoimmune disorders or diseases and injuries that damage the brain as the organ that produces the hormone.
While the primary cause of narcolepsy is still unknown. Here are the conditions that can trigger a person affected by autoimmune disorders that can ultimately lead to this sleep disorder.
- Hormonal changes especially during puberty or menopause
- Genetic defects
- Streptococcal infection
- Flu infection
Here are some factors that can damage the part of the brain that producing hypocretin.
- Brain tumor
- Head injury
- Disease encephalitis
- Multiple sclerosis diseases
The most obvious sign is excessive and constant sleepiness. Narcolepsy is often misunderstood by laymen and misdiagnosed by doctors.
Primary Symptoms of Narcolepsy
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
- Cataplexy or sudden onset of muscle weakness or even complete inability to control their muscles
- Nighttime wakefulness or disrupted sleep
Other indications that you may have narcolepsy:
- Hypnagogic, hypnopompic hallucinations, and vivid dream
- Atonia or sleep paralysis
- Microsleep and automatic behavior
- Memory disorders
The symptoms of this disorder are permanent and can affect patients as a lifelong condition. Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for narcolepsy.
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The medicines that available are only to relieve or control the symptoms. So the daily activities of the sufferer are not disturbed. Some of these conventional treatments include:
- Antidepressants. Antidepressants have been used to prevent cataplexy episodes from occurring.
- Sodium oxybate. This substance is usually taken before bedtime to promote sleep and triggers deep sleep and limits nighttime wakefulness.
- Stimulants. These are said to aid in improving mood and brain function.
Natural and Holistic Alternatives
There are some natural and holistic alternatives to conventional medications that can reduce the effects of narcolepsy. This provides you with a safer option without the risk of exposing your body to toxins and chemicals.
- Gotu kola. This herb reduces fatigue, anxiety, depression, and nutrients into the brain and assists in normalizing your sleeping patterns.
- St. John’s wort. It helps in lessening anxiety and promoting alertness.
- Ginkgo biloba. It enhances blood circulation to the brain and provides protection from neurodegenerative damage through its antioxidant properties.