Thursday, January 8, 2009

Managing Narcolepsy with Eyes Wide Open

A lot of people complain about losing sleep, but there are those who suffer from too much shut-eye. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that is characterized by overwhelming drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep during the daytime. While the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute pegs the number of narcolepsy sufferers in the United States at 200,000, only 50,000 cases are diagnosed. As such, it means that there are about 150,000 people out there who are falling asleep in classes, at work, and in random places more than usual. If you are one of these people, read on for some tips on managing narcolepsy:

1.Read up information on narcolepsy.

When you have some free time in your hands – meaning you're not nodding off to sleep – read up about narcolepsy. Understanding your condition is key in finding the right solutions. For example, do you know that a person who suffers from narcolepsy is called narcoleptic and that imbalances in brain chemicals cause it? And one more thing – narcolepsy is incurable. It is a chronic disorder that needs a lifetime of management if you want to spend some time out of the bedroom. But despite it being incurable, it'll help you to know that there are medications and techniques that can actually keep you awake when you want to.

2.Be ready for symptoms.

A lot of narcolepsy symptoms get misdiagnosed as that of other more popular disorders such as anxiety, depression, and drug abuse so it is important to pay attention. Symptoms of narcolepsy rarely come singly; most often than not, these signs come in pairs or in progression. Some symptoms to watch out for include overwhelming drowsiness and an uncontrollable need to sleep during the day, cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone which results in slurred speech and general muscle weakness), sleep paralysis (temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking), and hallucinations. Restless nighttime sleep is also a symptom.

3.Address and treat symptoms.

Since managing narcolepsy largely depends in controlling its symptoms and causes, it is time to pay attention to these matters. Excessive daytime drowsiness or EDS can be prevented by establishing good nighttime sleep routines. If you are bothered by insomnia – which can make EDS worse – buying cheap sleeping aid drugs online can help. Just be sure to check with your doctor to ensure that no negative interactions will occur. EDS can also be fought off by using stimulants. On the other hand, antidepressants are also useful in preventing hallucinations. Just remember to follow your doctor's prescription religiously to avoid overdosing and other complications.

4.Practice preventive measures.

To stave off EDS, take short naps at strategic times during the day. These naps can help boost your alertness and prevent drowsiness for at least three hours. Avoiding nicotine and alcohol can also help a lot since they can cause other symptoms to worsen. It also helps to stick to a strict sleep schedule as this can help your body clock recognize between the right and wrong time to fall asleep. Exercising and eating a balanced diet can also prevent muscle loss and weakness.

5.Form a support group.

Having a support from your workplace or school can significantly boost your chances of coping with narcolepsy. The American with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against narcoleptic workers and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees. You can talk to your teacher or boss about taking short naps during the day, recording meetings and lectures, or breaking up monotonous tasks.

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Kristine Anne Gonzaga is a content writer and researcher who specializes in health topics and health-related issues. She delights in finding tips and ideas on simple and practical health care and sharing them through her writing.

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