We’ve all heard the term before, but what is narcolepsy?
Is it an actual medical condition, and do you have it? Perhaps most importantly, if you do have it, then what can you do about it? These are scary questions that may require some real answers. So first off, what is narcolepsy? Simply put, it’s a long term neurological disorder that has to do with a decreased ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles, also known as the circadian rhythm. Symptoms of the disease include being overly tired during the day, as well as strong emotional responses, and in some cases a sudden loss of muscle strength known as cataplexy.
Here’s some good news: you probably don’t have narcolepsy. At least the odds are extremely low. Narcolepsy on average less than 600 people per 100,000. That’s only about a half percent chance that you have it. So hopefully the answer to the question what is narcolepsy can give you peace of mind: it’s an extremely rare disorder. What’s more likely is that you’re suffering from a short-term bout of insomnia, a much more common and treatable form of sleep disorder. In both cases, the treatment relies in solving the problem of the sleep-wake cycle, which usually means regular short naps, and better sleep hygiene.
If you are one of the people who experiences narcolepsy in your life, there are some over the counter and prescription drugs that could help your case, but as always, it’s best to consult a physician before starting on any medicinal regimens. So now you know what is narcolepsy, hopefully this will relieve your anxiety and help you sleep better.