Excessive daytime sleepiness is a common symptom of many sleep disorders that interrupt or interfere with normal nighttime sleep. For some, however, it may be the symptom of a hypersomnia sleep disorder called narcolepsy. Untreated, narcolepsy can be dangerous because it can cause “sleep attacks” in the middle of daytime activities and fragmented sleep during nighttime.
There are two types of narcolepsy:
Both types are characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and other symptoms, such as:
Symptoms typically begin to present between the ages of 15 and 25. Causes of narcolepsy are not well understood.
Narcolepsy can be challenging to diagnose because excessive daytime sleepiness can be a symptom of other sleep disorders. For a definitive diagnosis, one or multiple sleep studies may be required—a conventional sleep study (done at night) may help to rule out other sleep disorders while a nap study, which involves the sleep study protocol at various times of the day, may better assess daytime sleepiness.
Blood tests to measure amounts of hypocretin, a neurotransmitter associated with wakefulness and appetite, may also be ordered.
If you have narcolepsy, seeking treatment is imperative for your safety and that of others. Sleep attacks increase your risk for accidents, including drowsy driving accidents.
Most treatment options for narcolepsy involve prescription medications, often stimulants and/or antidepressants that may regular neurotransmitter levels. Improved sleep hygiene and sleep habits can also help to manage symptoms.
Neurology & Sleep Medicine in Albuquerque, NM offers everything you need for diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy. Patient care at our practice is led by our board-certified sleep specialist, Dr. Senthil Ramasamy, who meets with every patient during consultations and evaluates all sleep study results.
Contact us to schedule an initial consultation today.