Narcolepsy: Treatments, Causes, Risks, And More

Narcolepsy TreatmentsNarcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder of sleep regulation, characterized by overwhelming and excessive periods of sleepiness during the daytime, which can last from 10 to 20 minutes. Such periods of sleepiness are mostly sudden, brief; they take place without any special warning, may repeat during the day and, as a rule, are irresistible. In other words, a person, who suffers from the symptoms of narcolepsy, is under the danger of sudden attacks of sleepiness during the daytime, even after good night’s sleep, and may fall asleep in any time and any place, like at times of walking, driving, eating, etc. Narcolepsy affects normal functioning of organism, because an individual can not control own sleep and awake condition. The hardest forms of narcolepsy are cataplexy, which means the loss of muscle tone, and hallucinations, frequently accompanying sudden attacks of narcoleptic sleep.

The symptoms of narcolepsy are, first of all, physical overwhelming and excessive sleeping attacks during the daytime. On early stage of disorder they may happen as a result of boredom, when an individual is motionless and in peace. But within the time, the other symptoms may occur, one by one or developing in combination. The most common other symptoms of narcolapsy are: sleep paralysis (inability to move or to talk, when about to fall asleep or right after waking up), automatic behavior (doing daily routine without full awareness), hypnagogic hallucinations (very realistic and sometimes scary visions and dreams, accompanying sleep attacks) and The Symptoms Of Narcolepsycataplexy (sudden losses of muscle control of the body, which may vary from slight weakness to total loss of control, and frequently be followed by loud reaction of laughter, scream or anger). These symptoms, especially cataplexy and EDS, may seriously damage a person’s personal, social, and professional life and limit activities.

The causes of narcolepsy have not been discovered clearly yet. Numerous medical researches and experiments, supported by government and National Institutes of Health are trying to find out, what the reasons of this disorder are, and how to detect and effectively treat it. Medical scientists are likely to suggest that this disorder can be connected with biochemical defects of central nervous system, resulting in disturbance of REM sleep. Specialists have only discovered that there are some irregularities in those different parts of the brain, which are regulating REM sleep and seem to be the most involved into symptom development. Blood pressure is also a key-factor, especially for the cases of cataplexy, because losses of muscle tone are strictly linked with blood pressure changes. Besides, as narcolepsy often happens among the members of a whole family, heredity and genetic inclination can be also important points.

Causes Of NarcolepsyDiagnosis of narcolepsy includes physical examination and studying of sleeping process. There are some ways of narcolepsy treatments, like using of antidepressants and drugs from the group of central nervous system stimulators, and also physical or psychological exercises. Stimulators and anti-depressants, like Ritalin, Adderall or Provigil, can be prescribed to improve alertness and control muscle paralysis. Besides, specialists may recommend making planned short daily sleeps, which may help to overcome sudden sleep attacks. Programs of combined treatments can be effective and result in considerable improvements, though complete recovery is hardly possible. Narcolepsy treatments are strictly individual and depends on the intensity of the symptoms, so it may take weeks or years to achieve some positive results.

25 of every 100 thousand people in the United States (that is about 125,000 individuals) suffer different levels of symptoms of narcolepsy. They may occur in both women and men of any age, though its symptoms can be mostly found in teenagers or young adults of early twenties. This disorder is life-long and requires some thorough narcolepsy treatment, preferably medical one rather than alternative or natural. For those, who suffer this disorder it is important to learn more about the causes of narcolepsy. There are special support groups to help patients and their families to cope with the effects and consequences of this disorder. An abundance of curative, scientific and educational programs from different narcolepsy organizations are available.

Disturbed Sleep Can Be Linked To Alzheimer’s Disease

Disturbed SleepSleep problems and various sleep disorders like insomnia (chronic or occasional), sleep apnea, inability to rest at night, inability to follow a normal sleep cycle, inability to fall asleep on time, etc., are very well familiar to most of modern people. Our busy and stressful business life, numerous problems in our families and in our friend’s life, sedentary lifestyle, bad habits and unhealthy nutrition, taking certain medications, our ailments and health conditions – those are the most common causes of our chronic sleep disorders and sleep problems. Disturbed sleep can be named as a curse of our times, and millions of people around the world are affected by sleep disorders, to one or other extent.

There is a great deal of risks and dangers connected with chronic sleep disorders. In particular, inability to sleep and have enough of rest leads to low energy levels, chronic fatigue, stresses and psychological problems. In addition, as a recent study has shown, disturbed sleep can be associated with early signs of such a serious mental disorder as Alzheimer’s disease. This health condition reveals itself with severe memory loss and mental functions decline, but it is usually linked to aging. According to the findings of a group of scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, disturbed sleep, inability to sleep properly at night and spending most of night time awake can signal about brain plaque formation which is a sign of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

It was found out before that a chronic lack of sleep causes beta-amyloid marker build-up in the brains of animals. A group of specialists led by Yo-El Ju, MD, started their experiments in order to confirm or dis-confirm the idea that the same thing happens in human brain when we suffer from disturbed sleep. Ju and his colleagues invited about 100 volunteers to participate in their study, at that, 50 per cent of those participants had a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. The participants were asked to use an actigraph for 14 days, which could help the scientists to measure sleep quality of the experiment participants. Also, they were asked to fill up special questionnaires and their sleep dairies. Finally, their level of amyloid beta-42 in cerebrospinal fluid was thoroughly monitored by the scientists in the lab.

It turned out that after just 2 weeks of experiment, 25 per cent of those who suffered from chronic sleep problems and disrupted sleep, started developing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. On average, the participants spent about 8 hours sleeping, but those who reported about sleep problems could sleep no more than 6 – 6.5 hours every night. Those of the participants who used to wake up 5 and more times a night, demonstrated the worst results and showed the signs of development of amyloid plaques in the brain. “Further research is needed to determine why this is happening and whether sleep changes may predict cognitive decline,” Ju commented on the work of his colleagues. The findings of American scientists were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in New Orleans earlier this spring.

Insomnia, A Professional Disease In Cops

Sleep disorders can be considered a group of professional diseases of modern police officers. According to the findings of experts from the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, up to 40 per cent of today’s police officers in the United States and Canada suffer from chronic sleep disorders like chronic insomnia, sleep apnea, and many more. In addition to that, the cops who displayed the signs of mentioned sleep disorders also suffered from such psychological problems as depression, anxiety disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so on. As a result, they were more prone to making constant professional errors and showing incompetence in one or another issue related to fulfilling various administrative tasks.

In the report about the study published two months ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Michael Grandner, one of the study leaders, says that the discovered phenomena can be explained by constant social pressure and too stressful environment that modern cops have to work in. Also, it is quite common for today’s police officers to support their image of ‘tough guys’ and always behave with courage and braveness, that’s what can cause sleep disorders, chronic insomnia and related health problems. Police officersDr. Michael Grandner underlines that the mentioned problem can soon grow into a great public concern as it would play a role in jeopardizing public safety. This is why every each police department should do everything possible to assist the officers in treating their sleep disorders.

The study involved analyzing health condition, specifically psychological health and sleep problems, of over 5,000 police officers aged 38-39, from such regions as Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and some regions of Canada. According to the published information, about 40 per cent of the participants have shown positive results as to at least one of the most common sleep disorders. At that, regular observation and working with questionnaires demonstrated that up to 60 per cent of those who were suffering from sleep apnea or chronic insomnia were regularly displaying fatigue-related errors like falling asleep while driving, and so on.

At that, the scientists noticed that police officers from Massachusetts had relatively low incidence of sleep disorders like sleep apnea. It turned out that those police officers had one hour exercise time (paid) for every shift. Besides, it was a common practice to undergo special fitness tests, including such exercises like chasing a suspect, dragging a body, and so on, and the results of such tests were taken into account when determining the amount of financial bonus for the job. Experts point on such program as a very effective model for all national police departments.

A New Opportunity For Creating A Cure For Insomnia

A group of scientists in the US are reporting that they are on the verge of creating a new revolutionary cure for insomnia based on their new discovery of an enzyme responsible for our sleep-wake up routine. After a series of chemical tests and studies related to mechanisms of sleep regulation, the researchers found a chemical compound that is responsible for producing a restful sleep, and according to the findings, blocking this enzyme production can be associated with total suppressing of our sleep function. In other words, some certain amounts of this enzyme in the body can cause a person to wake up.

cure for insomniaMillions of people around the world are suffering from such sleep disorder as insomnia, and in most of those people this sleep disorder turned into a chronic problem. That is why finding an effective cure for insomnia is a very topical problem nowadays. Many specialists are carrying out experiments trying to analyze chemical processes that take place in our brain while we are sleeping. It is known that sleep is regulated by numerous chemical processes, as well as other mechanisms influenced by other mental, environmental, psychological and other factors. Some of those are not properly understood yet.

Currently, there are quite a few cures for insomnia available for modern people, however, most of those have dangerous side effects and can not help in combating the problem from its roots. That is why the recent research gives great hopes to everyone who is in need of a cure for insomnia. The scientists tried to understand regulation mechanisms on cellular levels that can lead to finding causes and possible treatments for many sleep disorders. In particular, it was found our that blocking  the enzyme can cause non-REM and REM stages of sleep and improve our sleep quality.

Current treatments for sleep disorders do not achieve the ideal behavioral outcome, and are usually accompanied by many undesirable side effects,” Dr Subimal Dutta, one of the study leaders and an author of the report commented to the mass media. “A more specific, fine-tuned approach to treating these disorders by promoting alertness and treating insomnia would greatly benefit public health,” she added. You can read more about the findings of the US scientists and opinions of the leading sleep experts on the perspectives of creating a new cure for insomnia in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

If Your Parents Suffer From Insomnia, Your Risks Are High Too

InsomniaInsomnia is a curse of modern generations, and millions of people around the globe suffer from this type of sleep disorders. In many cases, insomnia turns into a chronic condition, bringing such effects as constant restlessness, headaches,  fatigue, inability to focus and maximize our performance, and so on. Form the scientific point of view, not too much is known about the most common causes, mechanisms and effects of this sleep disorder. That is why insomnia and chemical processes that accompany this condition become a focus of numerous current researches and studies very often.

In particular, one of the studies carried out this summer and reported in September has shown that such condition as insomnia has very strong influence of heredity. This factor plays a great role, and if your mom, dad or other close relatives suffer from this health condition, you have quite high chances to suffer from it too. The group of scientists of Universite Laval’s School of Psychology, who carried out this research and worked on analyzing the data on about 3,500 participants, came up with the conclusions that those who have a history of chronic insomnia in their family can be exposed to up to 76 per cent higher risks of suffering from this sleep disorder at one or another stage of their life.

The participants were asked to answer some questions about their sleep patterns, their sleep problems and sleep problems of the close relatives like mother, father or siblings. The study included also monitoring possible changes of sleep patterns withing 12 months, with occasional interviewing the participants. It turned out that almost 40 per cent of people who had a family member suffering from insomnia displayed the signs of the same sleep disorder.  At that, 76 per cent of those participants had only one relative suffering from insomnia, and 21 per cent had two and more family members affected by the same condition.

Dr. Charles M. Morin of Universite Laval’s School of Psychology, one of the study leaders and the author of the report, commented on the findings of his colleagues as the following: “There is very probably a genetic factor behind the family aggregation we observed. However, we don’t know if the mechanism is a physiological process that interferes with sleep or a predisposition to anxiety.” He also said that there are options of early psychological and related types of treatments for those who have elevated risks of insomnia caused by such factor as heredity.