Narcolepsy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Narcolepsy is one kind of neurological sleep disorder. It produces an excess of daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms associated with alterations in sleep rhythms. Narcolepsy is a disease of neurological origin. In this article, we will explain the causes, symptoms, and treatment of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy affects both men and women. It is a disorder characterized by the appearance of chronic excessive daytime sleepiness. Only comparable to that suffered by a person affected by severe sleep apnea. It is a confusion that characterized by abnormalities in sleep. Narcolepsy begins to manifest during adolescence or at the end of it.

Causes of narcolepsy

  • In certain infections such as infectious may responsible for narcolepsy. These are mononucleosis, possible blows to the head, abrupt changes in sleep rhythm, menstruation, etc.
  • It may be a pathology of genetic origin. What is clear is that there is still much to study in front of this disorder called narcolepsy.
  • Brain abnormalities are the regulation of REM sleep. It seems to contribute to the development of symptoms of narcolepsy.
  • The deficiency in the production of a protein called hypocretin. The brain cannot produce enough. In which the body itself attacks and destroys the hormone.
  • Studies show that hypocretin handles not allowing the brain’s activity during periods when you awake.
  • Many alleles of genes located on chromosome 6 comprise a large number of interrelated genes. That regulates key aspects of the immune system. Specific variations in the HLA genes only increase the predisposition of the individual. It helps to develop the disorder.
  • Many other genes can contribute to the development of narcolepsy. Scientists studying narcolepsy in dogs have identified a mutation in a gene on chromosome 12. That appears to contribute to the disorder. This mutated gene interrupts the processing of neurotransmitters. It created by the neurons of the hypothalamus. These are active during wakefulness. They suspected of preventing brain systems from shutting down.

Symptoms of narcolepsy

Daytime sleepiness: It characterized by the need to sleep that cannot control. The impulse happens in any situation. The person does not realize that she has fallen asleep, being able to suffer accidents. This sign can last for a few minutes. It occurs especially after the meal, and upon awakening, there is a feeling of rest.

Cataplexy: There is no muscular control and the person cannot move, even if he is conscious. These crises can last between 30 seconds and 2 minutes and occur several times a day. The knees, the jaw, and the head are the most affected parts.

Hallucinations: The person perceives sounds and images do not exist. It is usually frightening. It occurs when you go from alertness to sleep.

Sleep paralysis: It is the inability to perform any movement or talk, either waking up or falling asleep. This sensation can last up to 15 minutes and there are pressure and ringing in the ears. This symptom can present in isolation. If you only present this sign, it is not narcolepsy.

Other symptoms related to this condition are:

  • Fatigue and constant fatigue
  • Depression
  • Difficult to focus
  • Dream divided into periods of the vigil
  • Diagnosis of narcolepsy

People with sleep apnea problems can suffer for a long time, before its diagnosis. If they only have daytime sleepiness, it can be confused with other disorders. To diagnose narcolepsy, it is necessary to rely on the symptoms, the age of the patient, his medical history and when the sleep attacks to begin. Many sleep latency tests are the tool that will use to carry out a more accurate diagnosis. In this process, a daily record takes every 20 minutes for two hours. It measured how long it takes the signs of sleep to appear and if there is REM sleep. If you appear before 5 minutes, two dreams in REM phase.

Narcolepsy treatment

  • Proper treatment will help to reduce sleep problems in adults. As for medications, antidepressants and sodium oxybate will treat symptoms such as hallucinations or cataplexy. It will control daytime sleepiness. A specialist in sleep disorders or a neurologist can give you an appropriate plan to carry out the treatment.
  • It will be necessary to make changes in the lifestyle to relieve sleepiness and ensure good sleep hygiene:
  • The most common strategies are the following:
  • Perform scheduled naps and follow proper sleep hygiene.
  • With regard to pharmacological treatment, it is common to use stimulants such as methylphenidate, and methamphetamine.
  • To treat hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis, antidepressants, especially tricyclic antidepressants, are very useful. This disorder can cause other conditions such as depression or anxiety. Visit a psychologist to help you channel your mood.

Tips for sleep apnea problems

  • Avoid smoking
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Keep your room with low light and comfortable pillows to ensure a better rest.
  • Avoid taking stimulant drinks such as caffeine or alcohol, before sleeping.
  • Practice some relaxing activity before going to sleep, take a hot bath or read a book.
  • Perform exercises daily, a few hours before going to sleep.
  • Take naps during the day.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals
  • Comment on the environment where you develop your situation.


To conclude the occurrence of this disease in the population the functionality of the person affected. Moreover, it is also common for the patient to feel that he has lost control. That he is losing his mind in case hallucinations are frequent. However, with the help of good professionals and proper treatment, the improvement is more than evident. We will also have to change eating habits, making meals less copious and stop taking substances such as alcohol and tobacco. Try to reduce the level of stress, not watching television or mobile before going to sleep. Try to be used to sleep and rest at night. Feel more awake during the day. Be more sensitive to those who suffer from it. We invite you to go to a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.


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