A Natural Approach To Health
Living With Narcolepsy
I had a question the other day about narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder affecting the control of sleep and wakefulness.
People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime.
These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day.
In a typical sleep cycle, you initially enter the early stages of sleep followed by deeper sleep stages and ultimately (after about 90 minutes) rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
If you suffer from narcolepsy, REM sleep occurs almost immediately in your sleep cycle, as well as periodically during your waking hours.
It’s in REM sleep you experience dreams and muscle paralysis — which explains some of the symptoms of narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy usually begins between the ages of 15-25, but it can become apparent at any age.
In many cases, narcolepsy is undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated.
The cause of narcolepsy isn’t known, but scientists have made progress toward identifying genes strongly associated with the disorder.
These genes control the production of chemicals in your brain that may signal sleep and awake cycles.
Some experts think narcolepsy may be due to a deficiency in the production of a chemical called hypocretin in your brain.
In addition, researchers have discovered abnormalities in various parts of the brain involved in regulating REM sleep.
These abnormalities apparently contribute to symptom development.
According to experts, it’s likely narcolepsy involves multiple factors that interact to cause neurological dysfunction and REM sleep disturbances.
Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
>Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS): In general, EDS interferes with normal activities on a daily basis, whether or not a person with narcolepsy has sufficient sleep at night. People with EDS report mental cloudiness, a lack of energy and concentration, memory lapses, a depressed mood, and/or extreme exhaustion.
>Cataplexy: This symptom consists of a sudden loss of muscle tone that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control. It can cause symptoms ranging from slurred speech to total body collapse, depending on the muscles involved, and is often triggered by intense emotions like surprise, laughter, or anger.
>Hallucinations: Usually, these delusional experiences are vivid and frequently frightening. The content is primarily visual, but any of the other senses can be involved.
>Sleep paralysis: This symptom involves the temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up. These episodes are generally brief, lasting a few seconds to several minutes. After episodes end, you rapidly recover your full capacity to move and speak.
Although there’s no cure for narcolepsy, lifestyle adjustments may help to reduce symptoms.
To deal with narcolepsy it’s beneficial to:
*Drink 6-8 cups of purified water daily as it hydrates body and brain cells, thins mucus, and flushes toxins.
*Increase Omega-3 essential fats.
*Increase stress relief/relaxation techniques.
*Explore energy medicine techniques (EFT).
*Consider herbs like chamomile and valerian.
*Increase deep-breathing techniques.
*Increase exercise, activity, sunshine, outdoors, fresh air.
*Sleep in complete darkness with no night light as this promotes melatonin.
*Decrease blood sugar fluctuations/hypoglycemic tendencies.
*Decrease possible triggers, allergies, sensitivities.
*Decrease toxic household cleaning, laundry, and personal care products and/or poor air quality.
*Decrease sugar and chemical-laden junk and processed foods.
*Decrease caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
*Do not read/watch upsetting books/TV before bed.
*Avoid eating in the 2-3 hours before bed.
*Avoid exercise before bed.
*Research short- and long-term effects of sleep medications.