What is narcolepsy?
Do you feel excessive sleepiness during the daytime? Do you get sleepy easily in a calm environment at any time of the day? If the answer to these questions is yes then you may be suffering from hypersomnia and the most common cause of this condition is narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is the most common neurological disorder that disrupts sleep/wake pattern leading to hypersomnia.
We will examine what causes narcolepsy and how to cure it.
Narcolepsy is defined by ICSD as irresistible urges to sleep occurring on a daily basis for at least three months with the following laboratory findings present…
The DSM criteria for narcolepsy includes:
Narcolepsy may be associated with cataplexy. This is defined as a transient loss of muscle tone that occurs suddenly in response to strong emotion. That is, during sleep, a paralysis-like condition may occur.
Your narcolepsy may be one of three types.
1.Narcolepsy with cataplexy
This is the most frequent neurological cause of hypersomnia. The classic tetrad of symptoms (described later) is seen in this type of patient
2. Narcolepsy without cataplexy
The occurrence of EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness) and irresistible episodes of sleep without associated cataplexy. Other features may also be present, eg automatic behavior, hypnic hallucinations or sleep paralysis. Nocturnal sleep is usually less disturbed than in narcolepsy with cataplexy
3. Narcolepsy due to a medical condition
A consistent chronological link with the presumed underlying causative medical condition is found
To understand narcolepsy, you need to have some idea about normal sleep cycles. Human sleep pattern cycles through two stages: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. When you fall asleep, sleep is light and gradually become deeper. Both light and deep stages are part of non-REM sleep. The first stage of REM sleep comes after 90 minutes of sleeping. This is the dreaming portion. With narcolepsy, the REM pattern of sleep starts immediately after sleeping and even occurs randomly in the daytime. This means that the normal sleep/wake pattern is disrupted.
The exact mechanism is not clear but there are some known causes. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is linked to a loss of hypothalamic neurons that contain hypocretin. An underlying autoimmune process may lead to the elimination of the hypocretin cells. Several studies show that narcolepsy with cataplexy is associated with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) subtypes DR2/DRB1*1501 and DQB1*0602. First-degree relatives of patients with these subtypes have a 10- to 40-fold increased risk for narcolepsy with cataplexy
The classical ‘tetrad’ of symptoms are helpful for diagnosis but suffered by only a minority of patients with narcolepsy.
These are: 1) excessive sleepiness; 2) cataplexy; 3) sleep paralysis; 4) hypnagogic hallucinations.
Narcolepsy may impact seriously on your education, work, relationships, ability to drive or recreational activities and can have negative effects on self-esteem and mood.
There are, fortunately, effective treatments available for narcolepsy.
Be aware that these drugs are not for over the counter use. Consult your doctor and he will choose the best suitable drug for you.
Besides drug treatment, some behavioral treatments are also worthwhile. The following advice may be helpful for you:
Establish good sleep habits for narcolepsy:
A boring, inactive period will make anyone sleepy. It is more harmful when you have narcolepsy. Try to keep yourself busy. Do some interesting work in your leisure time
Control your diet:
A heavy meal stimulates sleep. When you have narcolepsy, this may also provoke cataplexy. Try to keep you meal size smaller. You may increase your frequency of eating to compensate.
Get help from your family:
If your cataplexy is related to specific stimulations like laughing, joking or crying, try to avoid these situations. Discuss with your friends and family.
Remember that for any neurological disorder the success of treatment depends mostly on the patient. The doctor can only prescribe you but cure depends on your compliance to treatment.
So, try to follow any prescriptions and advice. Most importantly, establish good sleeping habits.
Have a nice sleep!
What is insomnia?
Have you ever suffered from a difficulty in falling asleep or frequent night time awakenings? For most people, the answer is yes.
Insomnia (or sleep disturbance) is a common symptom with a prevalence rate of 30-40% in the general population. But a single episode of sleep disturbance is not a serious problem. The rate of significant insomnia disorder is only 5-10%.
So, what is insomnia and when should it be called clinically significant?
Here we will examine the causes and best treatment options.
Persistent problems falling asleep, maintaining sleep or poor quality of sleep for at least 3 days a week for one month is considered clinically significant insomnia. It is most commonly a symptom rather than a disease itself. It may be due to any specific underlying diseases or without any identifiable causes.
If insomnia is temporary, it is termed as acute insomnia.
When it’s persistent and mostly due a specific cause it is known as chronic insomnia.
It may also be classified as primary or secondary depending on the causes.
Your insomnia may be a result of wide range of factors. Here are some probable causes:
Causes of Primary insomnia:
Secondary or comorbid causes of insomnia
Several drugs may cause insomnia. As an example, antidepressants (MAOIs, SSRIs, venlafaxine or reboxetine); anti-Parkinsonian medication; bronchodilators (aminophylline, theophylline or pseudoephedrine); cardiovascular medication (β-blockers, clonidine, high-dose digoxin, verapamil); chemotherapy agents; corticosteroids/anabolic steroids; NSAIDs (high-dose); stimulants (dexamfetamine methylphenidate, amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine); levothyroxine withdrawal/dependency (hypnotics, opiates, alcohol, or cannabis)
You will suffer from various problems if your sleep is affected…
Insomnia is a risk factor for developing depressive, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. Insomnia is associated with motor vehicle accidents, work absenteeism, and reduced quality of life.
There are effective treatments available for insomnia. In the case of secondary insomnia you need to receive treatment for the underlying disease first. For primary insomnia, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments are available. The best treatment for insomnia is non-pharmacological. If still the problem persists, your doctor will advise you some drugs.
There are several pointers you can follow to improve your quality of sleep. Try to follow the advice below.
The aim of CBT is to break the cycle of insomnia. Poor sleep quality leads to stress and makes you anxious about not being able to sleep. This, in turn, causes further tension and anxiety which makes your sleeping habits poorer and can lead to the development of dependency on sleeping pills… Then a worsening of insomnia and so the vicious cycle goes on. Contact a psychiatrist for proper advice regarding CBT.
Establish good sleep habits:
There are different groups of drugs available for insomnia.
This, though, is the last option only if non-drug treatment does not work for you. Contact your doctor and he will assess your conditions to exclude any secondary causes. If any underlying disease is present, it must be treated first.
The drugs available are benzodiazepines like clonazepam, diazepam, bromazepam as well as non-benzodiazepines like zolpidem, zopiclone or zopeplon. The drug most suitable for you will be selected by your doctor.
To conclude, insomnia may be a tiresome experience but it’s not incurable. If not properly treated, it may affect your daily life severely. Don’t panic as it will just worsen the problem.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible to choose the best treatment for your insomnia and lead a happy life.
Have you every woken up because your roommate or your partner was snoring too loud?
Well, once in a while everyone snores during their sleep – some more than others! – and it can be a real inconvenience to the person sleeping next to you. Saying that it is just an inconvenience is an understatement because it has been linked to various health problems that range from daytime fatigue and irritability to more pressing concerns such as developing obstructive sleep apnea and creating relationship problems between your partner.
In simple terms, it is noisy breathing when you are sleeping. The mechanics of snoring are not that complex. Essentially, what happens is that when you are awake the muscles of the pharynx (throat) and the tongue have a certain amount of tension in them but when you are in a supine position (meaning laying on your back) while you sleep, the muscles of your tongue and pharynx relax. This leads to the constriction of the air passage. When you breathe in with force, the pharynx vibrates. This produces the sound that you call snoring.
But the good news is that it is curable!
Snoring can occur for various reasons but identifying why is the first step to treating the issue. Engage your partner to monitor your sleep pattern. This will help build trust and show your level of seriousness for dealing with this problem and along with that show how much you value your relationship.
What are these reasons?
Snoring itself can lead to sleep apnea which is a potentially harmful condition so if you’re snoring then it’s probably best to get this checked by your doctor.
Snoring can cause a wide array of symptoms:
There are various treatment options for snoring but this will depend on your visit to a sleep specialist who, after performing a sleep test, will determine which option is best for you.
Life Style Modification
The best way to stop snoring is to stick to the lifestyle adjustment scheme and follow the treatment plan laid out by your physician. For sleep apnea patients, having a good CPAP machine will really help during sleep. Along with having a good quality CPAP pillow, this will benefit anyone with a neck problem and aid in the relief from snoring ensuring a sound sleep.
Snoring is a condition which is often overlooked but if it remains untreated it leads to various problems including social, psychological and mental issues along with the chance of developing sleep apnea.
If you snore, take measures before it goes too far and causes complications.