Thursday, 12 March 2009

Learn how to cope with Narcolepsy without seeing doctors!

Narcolepsy is a malfunction of the sleep/wake regulating 
system in the brain which until recently was of unknown 
origin. Its most common manifestation is Excessive Daytime 
Sleepiness and sleep attacks. 

Symptoms of Narcolepsy includes: 

a. Temporary paralysis on falling asleep or awakening (sleep 

b. Hallucinations - vivid images or sounds - on falling 
asleep or awakening (Hypnagogic and hypnopompic 
hallucinations respectively). 

c. Moments (but sometimes extended periods) of trance-like 
behaviour in which routine activities are continued on 
"auto-pilot" (Automatic behaviour). 

d. Interruption of night-time sleep by frequent waking 
periods, marked by quickening of the heart rate, over- 
alertness, hot flushes, agitation, and an intense craving 
for sweets. 

Is there any treatment? 

There is no cure for narcolepsy, but the symptoms can 
be controlled with behavioral and medical therapy. The 
excessive daytime sleepiness may be treated with stimulant 
drugs or with the drug modafinil. Cataplexy and 
other REM-sleep symptoms may be treated with antidepressant 

Medications will only reduce the symptoms, but will not 
alleviate them entirely. Also, many currently 
available medications have side effects. Basic lifestyle 
adjustments such as regulating sleep schedules, scheduled 
daytime naps and avoiding "over-stimulating" situations may 
also help to reduce the intrusion of symptoms into daytime 

Drug Therapy 

Stimulants are the mainstay of drug therapy for excessive 
daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks in narcolepsy patients. 
These include methylphenidate (Ritalin®), modafinil, 
dextroamphetamine, and pemoline. Dosages of these 
medications are determined on a case-by-case basis, and they 
are generally taken in the morning and at noon. Other 
drugs, such as certain antidepressants and drugs that are 
still being tested in the United States, are also used to 
treat the predominant symptoms of narcolepsy. 

The major side effects of these stimulants are irritability, 
anxiety, quickened heart rate, hypertension, substance 
abuse, and disturbances of nocturnal sleep. Methylphenidate 
and dextroamphetamine are known to cause hypertension. A 
common side effect of modafinil is headache, usually related 
to dose size, which occurs in up to 5 percent of patients. 
Pemoline poses a very low but noticeable risk for liver 
complication. None of these stimulants influence the 
occurrence of narcolepsy’s auxiliary symptoms and usually 
are not used to treat them. 

Modafinil does not carry the addiction potential that 
methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine do. In fact, the 
latest development in treatment is a new modafinil drug 
called Provigil®, which does not act as a stimulant and so 
does not produce side effects like anxiety and irritability. 
Provigil’s therapeutic effects have been observed in 
maintenance of wakefulness test research, where patients 
have tripled their wakefulness. 

Although there is no cure for narcolepsy, excessive daytime 
sleepiness, sudden sleep onset, and cataplexy. Proper sleep 
hygiene,which includes a consistent sleep schedule and the 
of shift work and alcohol, can drastically reduce the ill 
impact of narcolepsy. 

And often, patients with narcolepsy feel refreshed after a 
short nap; therefore, taking short scheduled naps may 
greatly benefit patients combatting excessive daytime 

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