“Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness.” – WebMD
“Narcolepsy is a horrible fucking sleep disorder that turns your life upside down.” – Lanna Barrison
Narcolepsy is a lifelong, incurable, neurological disorder caused by the depletion of the neurotransmitter hypocretin/orexin that affects sleep and wakefulness. Narcolepsy causes sufferers to feel as though they have been awake for 72 hours straight. Narcoleptics suffer from very poor, fragmented nighttime sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. People with narcolepsy spend too much time and fall too quickly into REM sleep. As a result, they do not spend enough time in the other restful and restorative stages of sleep which wreaks havoc on their sleep/wakefulness internal regulation. Narcolepsy often includes hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations as well as sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy is often treated with wakefulness promoting drugs such as Modafinil or stimulants such as Ritalin or Biphentin.
“Losing muscle control whenever you feel strong emotion. Cataplectics may collapse every time they laugh.” – WebMD
“Uncontrollable awkward bodily movements that cause people in grocery stores to stare.” – Lanna Barrison
Narcolepsy is often accompanied by another neurological condition known as cataplexy. Cataplexy is a loss of muscle tone, often experienced during periods of strong emotion (eg. laughter, sadness, anger, etc.) Cataplexy can range greatly in severity from droopy eyes lids to a protruding tongue to a full body collapse. Cataplexy is often treated with antidepressants such as Prozac or Effexor that work by suppressing REM sleep and improving the quality of sleep. Xyrem (aka sodium oxybate, GHB, the date rape drug) is also used in the treatment of cataplexy. It is a relatively new drug, that is taken twice nightly to induce restful sleep. The side effects of this medication are long and scary and the long-term effects are not yet fully understood.