For most people, sleep is part of the routine: they fall asleep and wake up at a specific time. But for some, the desire to sleep is something sudden. Sleep does not creep up, but literally unexpectedly falls on them with an avalanche of sudden and irresistible fatigue at any moment of the day, more often right after lunch, turning off the control over muscle tone, at the moment when consciousness is working. Sleepiness is often less in the evening than during the day.
In such cases, we are talking about a disease called ” essential narcolepsy” or ” Jelino ‘s disease .” This pathology is burdensome for the patient himself, since a dream can take him by surprise at the most inopportune moment. But, in addition, it poses a threat to others if a person with narcolepsy drives a car, performs any work in which the lives of others depend on his reaction and control, etc.
Jelino ‘s disease causes problems with memorization, concentration of attention, creating great obstacles to the patient’s daily activities.
Causes of the disease
This pathology affects female and male representatives, but men more often. Narcolepsy manifests itself, as a rule, at a young age, in the period from 10 to 25 years. According to medical statistics, it is found on our planet in one out of two thousand people.
Previously, the development of narcolepsy was attributed entirely to heredity. Today, doctors believe that the disease may have other causes:
- hormonal disorders;
- infectious pathologies of the brain;
- diabetes mellitus;
- brain injury;
- psycho-emotional disorders;
- excessive tiredness;
- disorders in the immune system.
Modern medical science knows why Zhelino’s disease occurs . As authoritative scientific studies have shown, the development of narcolepsy is based on a deficiency of type A and B orexins . These are neurotransmitters that are produced by neurons in the hypothalamus. They help the body stay awake. In patients with neurolepsy , a decrease in the number of neurons responsible for the synthesis of orexins is recorded .
Sleep disorders diagnostics
Narcolepsy is not always easy to recognize, and it can sometimes take more than 10 years to get a correct diagnosis.
It is not easy to distinguish Jelineau’s disease from epilepsy and some psycho-emotional disorders. Therefore, the differential diagnosis should be based on objective data from polysomnography and sleep pattern or multiple latency test (MSLT), which differ in narcolepsy, epileptic activity of the brain, etc.
Narcoleptics have unique sleep cycles. They can go into deep sleep immediately after falling asleep, while most people take about 90 minutes to do so. Therefore, they see vivid dreams, barely having time to close their eyelids, even if the dream occurs during the day and lasts only a few minutes.
By some estimates, up to 50% of people with narcolepsy are unaware that they are a victim of the disease. Therefore, it is very important that each person has information about the main symptoms of this pathology.
Loss of control of muscle tone without impairment of consciousness and other symptoms
Learn about the five main signs of narcolepsy. If a person possesses at least one of them, it is necessary to tell a specialist about it.
1. Uncontrolled desire to sleep, often at the wrong time
This is called excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). A person with this symptom may feel tired all the time. It is difficult for him to stay awake and keep working throughout the day. He has unintentional sleep failures.
All people with narcolepsy have excessive daytime sleepiness, but they may not describe it in the same way. Some may report:
- feeling tired;
- increased irritability;
- difficulty concentrating;
- poor memory;
- sudden changes in mood.
2. A sharp loss of muscle tone
This phenomenon is called ” cataplexy “. A sudden loss of muscle tone can lead to the person’s head dropping, the face drooping, the jaw weakening or the knees bending sharply, while the consciousness remains. The person is aware of what is happening, but cannot resist it. Decreased muscle tone can affect the entire body and lead to a fall.
At the time of the attack, the following symptoms are observed:
- decreased tendon reflexes;
- slowing heart rate;
- redness or blanching of the skin;
- profuse sweating;
- if the tone of the cervical muscles is lost, breathing becomes difficult.
Not all patients with narcolepsy experience cataplexy . But a sharp loss of muscle tone without loss of consciousness can be a sign of Zhelino’s disease .
3. Poor sleep at night or insomnia
It’s okay to wake up at night from time to time. However, when a person has a narcolepsy-related sleep disturbance, it means that they often fall asleep quickly, but then wake up constantly throughout the night.
You should tell your doctor about this, because inadequate sleep can cause many health problems.
4. Feeling unable to move or speak when falling asleep or waking up
This phenomenon is called sleep paralysis. It occurs when a person falls asleep or wakes up, often before or after a long night’s rest. The body is temporarily paralyzed, a person is only able to move the eyeballs and blink. Sometimes it is impossible not only to utter a word or move your fingers, but also to breathe deeply, so the patient, quite naturally, experiences a strong feeling of fear.
5. Vivid, often frightening dreams when falling asleep and waking up
In scientific parlance, they are called ” hypnagogic hallucinations.” Survivors often describe their dreams as nightmares or vivid fairy-tale experiences that seem real. Under the influence of hypnagogic hallucination, being on the threshold of sleep-wakefulness, a person is able to hear sounds or words, and have unwanted visions.
Sleep paralysis is often accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations.
- To assume Gerinot’s disease in a patient, you do not need to try to find all the listed symptoms, the presence of only one is enough to suspect a pathology
- If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, talk to a professional.
- The diagnosis of narcolepsy can only be made by a physician after careful analysis of symptoms and the results of special studies.
- By making lifestyle changes and following all the recommendations of experts, you can manage the symptoms of narcolepsy and regain control over your own life.