Though most sleep disorders appear at night, their symptoms can cause lasting impacts throughout the day. Patients deal with extreme fatigue, loss of concentration, and a range of other effects. Narcolepsy is unique in that patients feel direct symptoms from the disorder both during the day and night.
At Sleep MD NYC, our goal is to provide patients with the tools and treatments they need to receive a good night’s rest. Dr. Shukla has treated countless patients with various sleep disorders, striving to provide top-quality, effective treatment. Without sufficient sleep, people can begin to see negative effects in all areas of their lives With the help of a top sleep specialist in NYC, you can take a step toward healthy sleep habits.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that has two primary symptoms:
- Overwhelming drowsiness during the daytime
- Sudden attacks of sleep
Certainly, these symptoms are incredibly disruptive for a patient’s daily routine. Beyond that, they can prove dangerous if present while a patient is operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle.
There are two types of narcolepsy, divided on whether or not they are accompanied by cataplexy. Cataplexy is a sudden significant decrease or complete loss of muscle tone. Most often, it is brought on when the patient experiences a sudden rush of emotion.
- Type 1 Narcolepsy (with cataplexy)
- Type 2 Narcolepsy (without cataplexy)
There are several key signs that a patient might have narcolepsy. However, not each symptom is present in every patient. A sleep specialist can help you determine if you are suffering from narcolepsy or another sleep disorder.
Below are some of the primary symptoms in patients with narcolepsy.
Individuals with narcolepsy may feel such extreme tiredness during the day that they fall asleep involuntarily. One moment you are awake, and the next you have nodded off. You wake back up relatively soon, but will again begin to feel tired before long. This symptom is usually the first to appear. And, it may manifest first as periodic loss of concentration and alertness. As soon as you notice this symptom, taking action is important to begin controlling the effects of this disorder.
This is a sudden loss of muscle control. If you experience lessened motor function after or during strong emotion, you may have this symptom. It could appear as slurred speech or difficulty controlling your limbs. The frequency of these bouts can vary significantly. Some patients may have one a year, while others may struggle with it daily. In many cases, this loss of control can prove dangerous. While driving or crossing the street, a loss of motor function could lead to severe injury.
Sleep paralysis can occur on its own or along with other symptoms for people with narcolepsy. Its main traits are waking up without control over your body. It happens because your brain shuts off your muscles during sleep. Usually, it turns them back on before waking up. But, with sleep paralysis, it lags behind. The result can cause severe anxiety or fear in patients.
REM sleep is the sleep stage in which people experience dreams. Typically, patients must cycle through three sleep stages before entering REM sleep. For patients with narcolepsy, it can occur at any time.
Though less common, some patients may experience hallucinations before falling asleep or after waking up. These can be frightening if not entirely awake or while under an instance of sleep paralysis.
Currently, there is no precise cure for narcolepsy. However, developments in sleep science have led to several treatment options that can help with symptoms.
What we do know is that patients with narcolepsy tend to have low levels of hypocretin. This vital chemical helps regulate wakefulness. Genetics and age also play roles in determining your risk level for narcolepsy.
First, Dr. Shukla with look for what is causing your sleep disorder. If the result is narcolepsy, you have several options.
Different patients respond differently to various medications. For some patients, stimulants are enough to keep narcolepsy symptoms under control. Other patients may respond to SSRI or tricyclic antidepressants. For patients with cataplexy, Sodium Oxybate has been shown to be effective. However, medication may come with side effects that Dr. Shukla can discuss with you. These medications can also interact with others you may be taking, so be sure to provide your sleep specialist with your medical history.
By becoming intentional with your sleep patterns, you may be able to regain some control over them. You can practice sleeping at the same time each night, or take timed naps at consistent points during the day.
Alcohol and nicotine can increase the severity of your symptoms. These are especially to be avoided later in the day, as they can interfere with falling asleep.
Moderate and healthy amounts of exercise can provide benefits in many areas of life. By performing exercise during the day, you will be more primed for better rest at night.
While having support does not directly treat the symptoms, it can help you progress through treatment. Whether a support group or a close friend or relative, having someone to rely on can decrease anxiety and give you the strength to continue working with your symptoms.
Narcolepsy and other sleep disorders can be severely disruptive. Sleep deprivation alone can lead to increased risk for, among other things, depression and heart disease. It can leave you feeling continually tired and less alert than before. Both your physical and psychological health are put into jeopardy.
That’s why Sleep MD NYC is devoted to helping patients treat their sleep disorders. Through lifestyle changes and the latest treatments, Dr. Shukla helps his patients get the rest they deserve. If you are suffering sleep-related symptoms, schedule a consultation today. We look forward to providing you the help you need for a full night’s rest.