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Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder that affects the control one has over their sleep and wakefulness. This disorder is a serious problem that can cause physical harm, negatively affect relationships, and lower self-esteem. Simple, everyday jobs, such as cooking or bathing, can become dangerous. As a result, it can put a strain on work, school, and family. About 1 in 2,000 people are affected by narcolepsy. There is no cure for this condition as of yet, but there are ways to recognize symptoms of narcolepsy so that you can lead a much healthier and active life.

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Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

The most common and often the first symptom of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness. EDS ( Excessive Daytime Sleepiness) is when a person repeatedly falls asleep during the day. This can have negative consequences in everyday life. Falling asleep at work or school can result in being misjudged as a lazy person. This, in turn, lowers the self-confidence of a person. Moreover, as a person tries hard not to fall asleep, they lose focus and cannot concentrate on any task.

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Sleep Attacks

A sleep attack is another common symptom of narcolepsy. A sleep attack is when one suddenly falls asleep without any warning. The duration of these attacks may last from few seconds to a few minutes. This is a very dangerous symptom and affects a person's ability to do everyday activities. For instance, suppose a person falls asleep while cooking. This can cause severe accidents which might even have fatal results.

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Cataplexy

People with narcolepsy often experience cataplexy, which is a sudden loss of muscle control. Sudden temporary muscle weakness or loss of muscle control can happen in various ways. These include slurred speech, head slumping down, their jaw-dropping, and their legs collapsing uncontrollably. Cataplexy attacks are often initiated by an emotion such as happiness, sadness, surprise, etc. These attacks can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Cataplexy can occur once a year or even a few times every day. Since emotions trigger cataplexy, many people withdraw themselves from emotions and isolate themselves to prevent such attacks.

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Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a state in which a person is temporarily unable to make any movements or speak out when waking up or falling asleep. Although it does not have any harmful effects and lasts only a few minutes maximum, it is a very frightening experience.

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Hallucinations

A terrifying symptom of narcolepsy is having hallucinations. Hallucinations are when a person sees, hears, or feels things that are not there but only exist within the individual's mind. The most common hallucination is feeling an unknown presence in the room. There are two kinds of hallucinations common in people with narcolepsy. The first one is known as hypnagogic hallucination, which is the hallucination that occurs when falling asleep. The second one is known as hypnopompic hallucination, which is when someone hallucinates while waking up. Hallucinations are not of any physical harm to the person who hallucinates but can have an adverse mental effect.

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Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common health issues. They can be defined as throbbing, unrelenting pain, constant, or intermittent. When a headache starts, it begins with one part of the skull and gradually spreads to the whole head. Sometimes headaches occur after rigorous work or gym session and may lead to nausea and vomiting. Headaches can also cause a migraine and cluster headache. In the case of narcolepsy, painful headaches may be present, which at times become difficult to tolerate. The person begins to feel dehydrated, becomes sensitive to light and sound, and unable to perform daily tasks. It is important for the person to consult with the doctor if he or she is experiencing these symptoms.

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Depression

If you are feeling sad, unhappy, and hopeless every minute of the day and have trouble sleeping properly, lost your appetite, and you cannot function properly, then you may be suffering from depression. Clinical depression or depression disorder affects your life in a very harsh way. Some of the most common symptoms of depression are difficulty in concentrating, loss of interest, feeling stressed, headaches, cramps, feeling guilt, and weight loss. The first step towards treating depression is to visit a professional mental health facilitator or care provider. The care provider will diagnose and interview you. Depression can be treated through therapy sessions and with proper medications.

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Restless Sleep

Narcolepsy can result in having restless sleep. Restless sleep is when a person keeps waking up frequently and suddenly from their sleep. This can happen for many reasons but most commonly is due to terrifying and vivid nightmares. A person can also experience hot flashes during their sleep. This is when the person experiences a sudden feeling of heat which appears to come from nowhere and spreads throughout the body.

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Automatic Behavior

Automatic behavior is when someone does something continuously without having self-control. Later on, the person does not have any recollection of the episode. During automatic behavior, usually purposeless jobs or verbal words are continuously repeated by the person.

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Rapid Entry to REM Sleep

People with narcolepsy have very much different sleep cycles than normal people. Narcoleptics can enter the REM state right after falling asleep. A person without the condition, on the other hand, may take up to 90 minutes to reach REM state. This means that narcoleptics experience the characteristics of REM sleep, such as vivid dreams and paralysis of the muscles, right after falling asleep, even if they sleep during the day.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.