Narcolepsy Diagnosis and Treatment
Narcolepsy in in most simple terms is basicallya very distinct drive to want to sleep. You're feeling very sleepy all the time, sometimescan fall asleep even without being aware that you're falling asleep. And so somebody canbe in mid sentence talking to somebody and nod off and not even realize they were sleepyenough to be falling asleep. Typically what we see when patients come in is is hypersomniaor over sleepiness is how most patients present. To diagnose narcolepsy we actually need twotypes of sleep studies. We send the patient to the laboratory to get an overnight sleepstudy to look for any other sleep disorders specifically to rule out things like sleepapnea since that can also make you sleepy
during the day. If we do not see any evidenceof abnormalities on the overnight sleep study and a patient has slept well, slept five,six, seven hours, then we go on the next day to do something called an MSLT. And that studyis basically a series of naps that you do the next day in the lab while you're hookedup to our EEG machine so that we can tell whether you're actually truly in sleep ornot. And if you go into REM sleep during those naps after you've just slept a full night'ssleep, there are certain criteria of how many REM episodes you have that leads us to beable to give you a firm diagnosis or not of narcolepsy. There's a lot that actually goesin to the treatment of narcolepsy both from
the physician standpoint as well as the patientstandpoint. So it's very important for somebody that has narcolepsy to get really adequatesleep. We recommend that they get usually between eight and ten hours of sleep a nightand that they have a very consistent sleepwake schedule. We also oftentimes recommend quickdaytime naps, ten to fifteen minute naps in the morning and in the afternoon, which canbe very refreshing for a patient with narcolepsy. And then typically that's also paired witha medication that helps stimulate the brain. There's a thought that narcolepsy probablydoes have some genetic predisposition and some genetic base. It can run in familiesso from that standpoint you probably are you
may be born with it but typically we don'tdiagnose it until the teenage years at least.