Causes and Prevalence of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in USA

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Self-help treatment that may help includes such behavioral changes as implementing short naps, better sleep habits, and/or a reduction of stress. Avoidance of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine in the evenings may also be beneficial. Doctors may prescribe mediations to help control the symptoms of narcolepsy. However, many times the side effects of these drugs are worse than the original ailments.

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland. It controls the sleep/wake rhythm of the body.

It has been used with some success in controlling the symptoms of narcolepsy and other sleep disturbances. However, another study suggests that Melatonin may have adverse effects. It may cause nightmares and worsen depression.

A new drug, Modafinil, received FDA approval in December, 1998. It seems to be effective in controlling the symptoms of narcolepsy, and has fewer adverse side effects than the amphetamines, such as Dexedrine and Ritalin. However, it is a new drug, and only time will reveal whether it will be effective with long term use or if a drug tolerance will develop.

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Having a sleeping disorder such as narcolepsy can put a major strain on the victims life and the lives of those around him/her. Daily, routine functions become troublesome and problematic for narcolepsy patients. However, with continued research and education, it is hoped that more medical advances can be made in the near future to ease the daily living complications associated with the disease. Furthermore, a better understanding of this sleep disorder will allow for a better acceptance from the general public.

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s a serious, life-long, potentially disabling disorder estimated to afflict more than 250,000 Americans, most of whom are undiagnosed.

It was once believed that was a psychological problem with a psychological cause; however, considerable research has demonstrated that this theory is not true. is now considered a neurological disease with an impaired brain regulatory sleep/waking mechanism being the primary cause. can strike anyone at any age, but symptoms usually occur during the early teenage years. Currently, no cure for exists, and treatment, for the most part, is considered inadequate.

The disease is principally characterized by a permanent and severe sleepiness and fatigue, however, there are wide variations between both the development and the severity of the symptoms associated with. The symptoms usually appear independent of one another, and in addition, the sequence in which symptoms appear is never uniform. Initially, the symptoms are rather mild and increase in severity at a gradual rate over a period of years.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) and Cataplexy are the two primary symptoms of . Other symptoms include Disrupted Nighttime Sleep, Sleep Paralysis, Hypnagogic Hallucinations, and Automatic Behavior. However, only 20 to 25 percent of patients suffer the complete range of symptoms.

EDS is usually the first symptom to be noted. It is sometimes expressed as sleepiness, tiredness, lack of energy, sleep attacks, or an unusual susceptibility to becoming sleepy or falling asleep. In general, the development of EDS is a slow process and requires several years to become an obvious problem. Although this pathological sleepiness is present every day, the intensity varies throughout each day. The afflicted individual may only be aware of the more severe of the daily episodes.

Unfortunately, a person with cannot resist feeling tired no matter how much sleep they get each night. EDS becomes most obvious when, as is often the case, the person becomes sleepy or falls asleep at inappropriate times. Sometimes these sleep “attacks” occur with little or no warning and the person falls asleep. At other times, an approaching attack can be detected, resisted, and the sleep can be put off for a few minutes or even a few hours. Some patients always have a premonition, some have an occasional warning, and others never see it coming.

Cataplexy is an abrupt loss of voluntary muscle control usually triggered by emotions such as laughter, anger, or surprise. Episodes of cataplexy occur in approximately 60 percent of patients with. Attacks can also be brought on by a feeling of elation while watching a movie or reading a book. In some patients, cataplexy can be caused by a memory of a certain, emotionally stimulating event. A catapletic attack can range from a brief experience of partial muscle weakness to an almost complete loss of muscle control lasting for several minutes and resulting in a total paralysis.

In the case of paralysis, the victimeven though he/she is consciousis unable to move or speak. During an attack, a person may experience blurred vision as well as a sagging jaw and tilted head; a slight buckling of the knees is common as well. These attacks are often mistaken for an epileptic seizure because they appear as a convulsion-like, jerking motion. When cataplexy first appears, the attacks are commonly mild and infrequent, however, each individual case may differ tremendously.

Some patients have only one or two attacks a year while others may have literally hundreds of attacks each day. The attacks typically last from a few seconds to as long as 30 minutes. does, however, have a characteristic age when symptoms first appear, usually in the 10 years between age 10 and age 20. Symptoms may occur before the age of 10 or after the age of 20, but it is very uncommon for to begin after the age of 40. Usually sleep attacks and daytime sleepiness are the first symptoms to appear, followed in a few years by the appearance of cataplexy.

It is suspected that narcolepsy may be an inheritable characteristic which can be passed from an afflicted parent to his/her offspring. Several studies have shown that narcolepsy is more concentrated in families in comparison to a random sample of the general public. Children of narcoleptics have about a one in 20 chance of being afflicted with narcolepsy, a rate that is 200 times more likely than the general public.


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Causes and Prevalence of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in USA. (2023, Feb 20). Retrieved from

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