Narcolepsy

Narcoleptic ChildNarcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder of sleep regulation, characterized by overwhelming and excessive periods of sleepiness during the daytime which last from 10 to 20 minutes. Such periods of sleepiness are mostly sudden and brief. They take place without any warning sign and can repeat many times during the day. In other words, a narcoleptic person is under the danger of irresistible sudden attacks of sleepiness during the daytime (even after having some good sleep at night), and can fall asleep in any time and any place. Narcolepsy affects normal life, because narcoleptic people can not control own sleep-awake condition. Cataplexy (the loss of muscle tone) and hallucinations accompanying sudden attacks of narcoleptic sleep, can make narcolepsy harder.

The symptoms of narcolepsy include physical overwhelming and excessive sleeping attacks during the daytime. On the earliest stages of the disorder they happen as a result of boredom, when an individual is motionless and in peace. But after a while, a person with narcoleptic symptoms can start experiencing sleep paralysis (inability to move or to talk when the person is about to fall asleep or right after waking up), automatic behavior (doing daily activities without full awareness), hypnagogic hallucinations (very realistic and sometimes scary visions and dreams) and cataplexy (sudden losses of muscle control of the body, which vary from slight weakness to total loss of control, and are frequently followed by loud reaction of laughter, scream or anger).

The causes of narcolepsy have not been specified clearly yet. The specialists from National Institutes of Health have been analyzing the behavior and sleep patterns of narcoleptic people, trying to find out possible reasons of this disorder, as well as the ways to diagnose and effectively treat it. Medical scientists suppose that this disorder can be connected with biochemical defects of central nervous system, resulting in disturbance of a person’s REM sleep. The specialists have discovered that narcoleptic patients have some irregularities in those parts of the brain, which regulate their REM sleep. Blood pressure is also a key-factor, especially for the cases of cataplexy, because losses of muscle tone are strictly linked to blood pressure changes. Besides, as narcolepsy often happens in all members of the same family, heredity can also be a key point among the causes of narcolepsy.

Diagnosis of this disorder includes physical examination and studying of the person’s sleeping process. There are some ways of treatment, including taking antidepressants and medications from the group of central nervous system stimulants, psychological therapy or doing physical exercises. A Narcoleptic ManStimulants and anti-depressants must be prescribed in order to improve alertness and control muscle paralysis. Besides, specialists can recommend taking planned short daily sleeps, which can help overcoming sudden sleep attacks. Programs of combined treatments can be really effective, though complete recovery from this disorder is hardly possible. You must remember that treatment is strictly individual and depends on the intensity of the symptoms, so it can take weeks or years to achieve some positive results.

About 125,000 people in our country have a type of narcolepsy. It can 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 usually a life-long problem and for those, who suffer from this disorder it is important to learn more about narcolepsy. There are special support groups to help patients and their families coping with the effects and consequences of this disorder. A number of educational programs are also available in specialized clinics and medical organizations.

How Can I Recognize Insomnia in Me or My Child?

If you suspect that you might be suffering from insomnia, you should analyze your sleep routine and answer the following questions:

Bad Sleeper1. Do you have difficulties with falling asleep or maintaining good sleep all night long?
2. Do you usually wake up very early in the morning?
3. Do you feel tired, unrefreshed and restless when you wake up?
4. Do you experience all of these problems even in those situations, when you have an opportunity to go to bed in the most convenient time and sleep as much as you want?
5. If you suspect insomnia in your child, does he refuse going to bed and sleeping alone?
6. Do you have at least one of the following problems:
— lack of energy;
— lack of motivation to do something;
— problems with attention, memory or abilities to concentrate;
— lack of success at work or in school;
— frequent changes of the mood;
— daytime sleepiness;
— frequent mistakes when doing usual daily work or when driving;
— nervous tension, headache and abdominal pains;
— disappointment or worries about own sleep?

If you answered “YES” to all of these questions, there is a big probability that you are suffering from insomnia. In such case, it is very important to find out, whether you have some other reasons causing you problems with sleep. Sleep disturbances and disorders can be the result of various reasons including:
— Chronic medical conditions and neurological complications;
— Long-term use of some medications;
— Substance abuse;
— A psychological disorder;
— Another sleep disorder or disturbance, etc.

The Most Common Sleep Problem: Insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, you are not alone with this problem. Nowadays, more than 30% of people around the world regularly have the symptoms of temporary insomnia, and about 10% of modern Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. Insomnia occurs more frequently in women and aged people. It is usually caused by a variety of reasons, including some serious general diseases. Also, insomnia can be a side effect of taking certain medications. People, who suffer from insomnia, usually have such problems as daytime irritability and fatigue, difficulties with concentration and focusing on something, sleepiness and many others.

InsomniacThere are four main types of insomnia that are connected with:
– difficulties when falling asleep;
– difficulties with maintaining sleep all night long;
– waking up too early;
– unsatisfying quality of sleep.

Insomnia is caused by some quite common reasons, which can be classified as the following:
(1) the causes, connected with physical and psychological condition of a person (including stresses, worries, anxiety and fears, concerns about the problems in professional or personal life, inability to relax, suffering from pains or diseases, menopause, continuous boredom and feeling of being rejected, depression, and so on);
(2) using stimulants, medications containing caffeine and other medications that can interfere with sleep (antidepressants, antihistamines, some weight-loss medications, etc.);
(3) environmental factors (changes in sleep environment, changes in daily habits or schedules, changes connected with traveling and time zone change, etc.)
(4) the factors, connected with aging (changes in general health, daily routine, sleep patterns, and so on);
(5) behavioral factors and failures to maintain a proper sleep hygiene (eating too much before going to sleep, leading very active night life, drinking and smoking before going to sleep, and so on).

If ignored and not treated properly, insomnia can lead to some complications, such as psychological disorders, depression, problems with blood pressure, increased severity of other illnesses and diseases. Besides, as insomnia usually causes lack of attention and concentration, it can be a reason of serious mistakes and even accidents which put human life to danger. Do not delay talking to a specialist if you are experiencing syndromes of insomnia and have sleep deprivation affecting the quality of your life. In the majority of the situations, insomnia can be treated with special supplements and medications (sleeping pills or antidepressants) as well as behavioral therapy, supported by the efforts to eliminate possible causes of insomnia and developing good sleep habits.

The Most Common Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

• Increased sleepiness in the daytime.
• Regular loud snoring at night, especially accompanied with high blood pressure, problems with lungs and diabetes.
• Frequent short periods of breathing cessation during sleep.
• Dissatisfaction with the quality of sleep:

«I need more than 30 minutes to fall asleep»

«I frequently wake up at night»

«I wake up very early in the morning and can not sleep anymore».
Sleep Disorders Symptoms

• Using sleeping pills for long time.
• Problems with sleep caused by traveling and time zone change.
• Unpleasant feelings in legs or arms, causing irresistible urge to move the legs or arms during sleep.
• Episodes of sudden body muscle weakness when experiencing strong emotions (joy, anger, hate, etc.), frequently accompanied by fainting.
• Regular nightmares and scary dreams.
• Attacks, paroxysm, unusual behavior during sleep (sleepwalking, urge to eat, grinding of the teeth, etc.)

Sleep Disorders in Our Life

Sleep DisordersWe spend about one third of our life sleeping, and having good regular sleeps is absolutely essential for everyone. Sleeping helps us to refresh our mind, have some rest after hard working days and maintain good health. However, nowadays not many of us can have regular healthy sleep. There are certain physiological conditions which bring to problems for people to breathe freely and easily during sleep. There is a great deal of sleep disturbances which do not allow people to recover and regain their mental and physical strength. Day by day such people are getting weaker and more depressed. Sooner or later, they have to forget about such natural things as a good spirit, excellent work capacity and mental abilities, ideal memory and appearance, which can only be stimulated by regular good sleep.

Sleep disturbances and disorders are very frequent in our times and almost everyone knows their signs and reasons. One of the prevailing reasons of problems with sleep is usual neglect of our biorhythms. Very often we extend our waking ours with the help of various stimulants or willpower, and certainly, it can be done only at the expense of our time for sleeping. Another leading reason is chronic pains or psychological disturbances, such as stresses or depression. Sleep disorders cause tiredness, weakness, impaired motor skills, inability to focus or concentrate, weaker immune system and slowed down metabolism, as well as other unwanted consequences.

SnoringThere are periodic, temporary and chronic sleep disorders. Serious ones, like narcolepsy, parasomnias, sleep apnea and others, usually require medical treatment and immediate changes in daily behavior. If you are suffering from chronic insomnia or other disturbance, see a specialist in order to diagnose your problem correctly. Only doctor can recognize the type of disorder and recommend the most effective treatment. For example, sleeping pills and tranquilizers are the most effective medications for insomniacs, and effective antidepressants and stimulants must be prescribed to the people who have hypersomnia (extreme sleepiness).

Nevertheless, in the majority of the situations your relief from problems with sleep is in your own hands. If you started having regular periods of insomnia, difficulties when falling asleep or waking up, as well as seeing scary or disturbing dreams, you can begin with making slight changes in your daytime behavior and sleep habits. Every day go to sleep at the same time, sleep in comfortable bed and in comfortable environment. Spend your time before going to bed in doing something calm and monotonous, or take a shower. Do not start using sleeping pills until your doctor did not recommend you to do so. And one more rule: set your mind for good sleep, and stay wrapped in slumber deep and sweet all night long.