A sleeping disorder that was discussed in Module 7 was Narcolepsy. Many people around the world are affected by this disorder a person with such disorder may go an entire day feeling the urge to sleep and always feeling fatigued. Narcolepsy is defined as a “Chronic disorder that is marked by excessive sleepiness, usually in the form of sleep attacks or short periods of sleep throughout the day. The sleep attacks are accompanied by brief periods of REM sleep and loss of muscle control, which may be triggered by big emotional changes” (Plotnik 163).
A person with this disorder will have an extremely eradicate sleep schedule, which can really hinder a person’s capability to live a normal lifestyle. Research has still yet to discover a concrete answer as to what the main cause of narcolepsy is, however scientists have found genes strongly associated with this disorder. The gene that has been associated with this disorder helps control the production of chemicals in the brain that quite possibly signal the sleep and awake cycles in a person. Researchers think if there is a deficiency in the production of the chemical called hypocretin by the brain then it may result in narcolepsy. Narcolepsy)
In association with this discovery, it has also been found there are abnormalities when the brain attempts regulating REM sleep. With these irregularities with REM sleep it is often seen that side effects also develop. Side effects of narcolepsy can be mild to extremely drastic. The most known side effect is excessive daytime sleepiness. A person with narcolepsy is not consistently receiving a full night of healthy sleep which in turn leads to that person being very tired throughout the day. Narcolepsy has many other symptoms, but one notable one is causing the victim to fall asleep in inappropriate places.
A person could be doing anything, such as cleaning or driving and just fall asleep. This poses quite an issue because of safety of themselves and others becomes jeopardized. With this disorder still not fully understood it is not easily diagnosed. A doctor may ask for a patient to keep a sleep journal noting their sleep pattern and symptoms over a two week period. A reason it is difficult to tell if narcolepsy should be diagnosed is because many of the symptoms that show up with this disorder are also present in a couple other disorders.
Two tests must be completed to confirm a diagnosis of narcolepsy. The first is the Polysomnogram which is an overnight test that measures an individual while they sleep to document any abnormalities. The second is a multiple sleep latency test which is performed in the day to measure a person’s tendency to fall asleep and also measures how long it takes a person to fall asleep. (What is Narcolepsy? ) While it may seem narcolepsy may not be that serious, it can drastically change someone’s life.
They are not able to live a normal lifestyle because they could potentially hurt themselves if they fall asleep at the wrong time or place. There is still no cure for this disorder but it is possible to control some of the symptoms with drug treatment. This disorder roughly affects one in every 3,000 people but is stated as severely underdiagnosed. Research is still taking place to find as much information about the disorder, in order to give those patients a great night sleep, and a full day of activities.
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