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Narcolepsy Essay

1782 words - 8 pages

Narcolepsy is defined as a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep whenever in relaxing surroundings. It is a brain disorder that causes poor control of sleep and wake cycles. People that have narcolepsy usually experience sudden sleep attacks. These sleep attacks can last from a few seconds to minutes. Narcolepsy is classified by extreme daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnologic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. In this paper the focus is on the physiological effects of Narcolepsy on an individual, as well as explains treatments and recent research studies being made today and in the future.
Narcolepsy effects about .05% of the human population. It is found mostly and Japan and the rarest in Israel. In the United States, 1 in every 3,000 Americans suffer from the condition. It is estimated there are 14 new cases found in the United States a year. Most symptoms begin to appear in the teenage years between the ages of 10 and 20. Figure 2 shows a chart of the number of people who took part in a study and survey that developed narcolepsy and their onset age. The ratio of women to men who have it are 1.5 to 1. Therefore, narcolepsy is more common in the female population. Only 2/3 of narcolepsy patients develop the muscle weakness called cataplexy.
Narcolepsy symptoms usually occur during the teen or young adult years. People who have narcolepsy may find it hard to function at school, work, home, and in their social life because they're always feeling sleepy or tired. The symptoms pointing toward narcolepsy include daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnologic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. First, extreme daytime sleepiness is one of the more obvious symptoms you would have that would point to narcolepsy. Some signs of daytime sleepiness include the following: periods of sleep would last 30 minutes or less upwards to several times a day, expressing strong emotions, and experiencing sleep episodes in the middle of daily activities. Also, cataplexy while being awake is another symptom of narcolepsy. Basically, cataplexy is muscles weakness. Some signs of cataplexy are slurred speech, weakness of muscles, and intense emotions. Cataplexy effects muscle tone while awake, effects part or all of your body, may make your head nod, ,may be hard to speak, falling (weakening at the knees), and strong emotions. During this time, you're usually awake. In addition, hallucinations are another symptom pointing towards the condition narcolepsy. These hallucinations are called hypnologic hallucinations. Due to the fact that you may be awake when you're dreaming, these dreams may seem like reality or may be nightmares. Some signs of having a hallucination are vivid dreams when falling asleep, waking up, dozing, and life-like dreams. Finally, sleep paralysis is a symptom of narcolepsy. Sleep paralysis prevents you from moving or speaking while falling asleep and waking up. During this period you are fully conscious. Some signs you...

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