Narcolepsy is an insidious condition which embodies itself in the form of excessive daytime sleepiness. This can entail drowsiness throughout the day, or even falling asleep at the most inappropriate of times. Those afflicted with narcolepsy can suddenly fall asleep even when in the middle of a conversation. Just like with insomniacs, those with narcolepsy have trouble getting a full night’s sleep. Consequently, many times narcolepsy is erroneously diagnosed as insomnia upon initial examinations. Although much about narcolepsy is not yet understood, scientists do know that those suffering from it enter REM sleep much faster than does the typical person.
REM stands for rapid eye movement, and it is associated with the deepest stages of sleep. Most dreams that you are able to recall with detail occur during REM sleep. Normally, a person enters REM sleep approximately 90 minutes after first falling asleep. Those with narcolepsy enter REM within 10 minutes of falling asleep. Research has definitively shown that narcolepsy is not a mental illness nor a psychological condition. It is a neurological ailment which can wreck havoc within the lives of those who suffer from it. However, research has quantified that those with narcolepsy do not have shorter life spans as a result.
Scientists aren’t certain, but they believe that narcolepsy is a genetic condition. Treatment regimens for narcolepsy are highly personalized — what works for one person might not work for another. Most treatments currently center on pharmaceuticals, and although there is no cure, many with narcolepsy are able to manage the condition using current treatment regimens.