Narcolepsy is a disease characterized by malfunctions in paradoxical, that is, rapid sleep. Manifestation of narcolepsy increased drowsiness and unforeseen "attacks" of sleep. In addition, this ailment is characterized by daytime “attacks” of irresistible drowsiness, bouts of sharp loss of muscle tone when awake, a ragged sleep, when falling asleep by the occurrence of hypnagogic and upon awakening hypnapompic hallucinations. Sometimes transient physical paralysis can occur right after waking up. Often the described condition appears in young males. According to separate assumptions, narcolepsy has a hereditary nature in conjunction with a provocative factor from the outside (viral infection).

Causes of Narcolepsy

Until recently, the etiological factor of the violation in question has been poorly studied. Scholars have proposed many hypotheses and put forward various concepts. And only by the end of the 20th century, they were able to establish the likely factor affecting the formation and further progression of the syndrome in question.

Narcolepsy, what is it? According to the research of specialists, narcolepsy originates from a disturbance in the metabolic processes occurring in the brain. These disorders lead to a deficient synthesis of orexin neuropeptide, which regulates the change of wakefulness by sleep. As a result of this person, attacks of the strongest desire to sleep are pursued.

The human brain is a complex "mechanism". Even Pavlov proved that in the human brain there are deep structures responsible for dreams. It also has neurotransmitters that make it easy for impulses to travel along neurons. During normal functioning of the nervous system, these substances are responsible for the individuals in the waking state. When they are deficient, excitement impulses do not reach the neurons and the subject falls asleep.

Thus, the disease in question narcolepsy originates due to the deficiency of the neurotransmitter Orexin. Lack of production can be caused by the following states:

- genetic predisposition;

- hormonal disruptions during pregnancy or during lactation;

- traumatic brain damage;

- excessive overwork and severe nervous tension;

- psychological trauma;

- diabetes;

- Infectious processes that enter the brain.

These factors cause impaired orexin production, which gives rise to paradoxical sleep disorder syndrome.

According to a different concept, the disease narcolepsy can have an autoimmune cause. This is confirmed by the presence of abnormal T-lymphocytes, which are absent in healthy subjects. Often, narcolepsy occurs after vaccination.

Studies of dreams through computer complexes have shown that in persons suffering from the violation described, there is a premature onset of REM sleep.

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

The main clinical manifestations of narcolepsy is considered to be an overwhelming craving for sleep, manifested by a sudden onset of drowsiness (hypnolepsy). Patients describe such conditions as severe, unquenchable drowsiness, which inevitably leads to falling asleep, regardless of the location of the patient. Frequently described seizures occur when performing monotonous movements in a monotonous setting (for example, when reading, listening to lectures). Even in healthy people, under such circumstances, bouts of drowsiness may appear, however, patients suffering from narcolepsy also have “attack” of sleep in conditions of intense activity, for example, while driving a car, while eating.

The frequency of seizures of hypnolepsia is characterized by significant fluctuations. Their duration can vary from a couple of minutes to 3 hours. At the same time, it is quite easy to wake up an individual who is in a narcoleptic sleep, as if he is in a normal sleep. As a rule, after such a dream, patients feel rested and fully awake, but literally after a couple of minutes the attack can be repeated. Over time, the subjects suffering from the described disorder, adapt to their illness, therefore, having experienced a characteristic drowsiness, they manage to find a more or less acceptable place to sleep.

In addition to bouts of drowsiness that occur during the day, the ailment described also manifests itself as a disturbance of night dreams.

Symptoms of narcolepsy can be the following: constant interruption of dreams at night, vivid dreams, insomnia, feeling of lack of sleep after waking up in the morning. Poor sleep at night gives rise to a decrease in efficiency and ability to focus, provokes the appearance of drowsiness during the day and irritability, contributes to increased interpersonal confrontations, the emergence of depressive states, chronic fatigue syndrome.

When falling asleep or before awakening, individuals suffering from the described disorder may observe hypnagogic phenomena, such as: vivid visions, hallucinations, often of a negative nature. These phenomena are similar to dreams occurring during the fast sleep phase. In children, these phenomena are considered normal, in healthy adults, they are quite rare.

Approximately in the fourth part of narcoleptics there is a sleepy paralysis, concluded in the muscular weakness of a temporary nature, which prevents the performance of voluntary actions. Such paralysis, as a rule, occurs during sleep or upon awakening. Most patients complain that during the described condition they have a strong fear. At the same time, muscular hypotonia during sleep paralysis resembles the position of skeletal muscles during REM sleep.

Narcolepsy and cataplexy, what is it? In addition, approximately 75% of narcoleptics show the phenomenon of cataplexy, a short-term paroxysmal loss of muscle tone, which leads to the fall of the individual against the background of the preservation of consciousness. Typically, this symptom provokes a sudden violent emotional response from the patient.

Thus, the typical signs of narcolepsy are falling asleep "in motion" (that is, the subject falls asleep without cause) and severe involuntary muscle weakness.

There are 4 varieties of the disease described. The primary form of this disorder is a classic variation of narcolepsy, occurring with daytime attacks of hypersomnia, cataplexy, hallucinations and sleepy paralysis.

The secondary form is considered a rarer variety. It occurs due to brain damage, brain tumor processes, multiple sclerosis, infectious lesions of brain structures.

The paroxysmal form of the disease described is associated with epilepsy. Narcoleptic paroxysmal attack is a symptom that occurs during epipadia. It consists in sudden falling asleep and falling.

Narcolepsy without cataplexy is also a rare variation of the disease. It is characterized by two variants of percolation. The first is that there is no cataplexy, but there are episodes of REM sleep, detected by means of diagnostic tests, the second is cataplexy and REM sleep episodes are absent.

Narcolepsy in children

Considered ailment of narcolepsy in children is rarely diagnosed, as a result of which the drug for narcolepsy is prescribed with a delay. It is believed that narcolepsy has a hereditary genesis. However, due to insufficient knowledge of this violation, it is impossible to name the exact etiological factor and the nature of its origin. Therefore, all assumptions about the genesis of narcolepsy are only theoretical.

Most experts agree that the disorder described is due to a deficiency of orexin, which is an active substance, which is fundamental to the regulatory function of the processes of awakening and falling asleep.

Factors affecting the presence and severity of some symptoms include:

- brain diseases of an infectious nature;

- injuries of the skull;

- pituitary dysfunction;

- the use of drugs that affect the central nervous system, including pharmacopoeial drugs;

- violation of the schedule of sleep and wakefulness;

- severe fatigue.

Below are the main signs of narcolepsy, finding that parents need to be alerted to their children.

First of all, babies with narcolepsy are lazy and not mobile. They often want to sleep during the day, they can "fall" into sleep after eating or while performing monotonous actions. It is difficult for such babies to wake up in the morning. They remain sleepy and slowed down for a long time after waking up, often aggressive and irritable.

Finding the below listed symptoms and symptoms of narcolepsy, parents need to treat children strictly by specialists.

First of all, such a list of signs should include a sharp weakness of the muscles, arising after a stormy emotional reaction of the child, the fall of the baby with a sound mind.

So, the main clinical symptoms of narcolepsy are:

- irresistible daytime sleepiness, which occurs suddenly and often at a rather inopportune moment;

- sudden weakness, emerging on the background of bright emotions (cataplexy);

- a short state of stiffening after a sudden awakening (paralysis);

- hallucinations that occur when trying to sleep or just before waking up;

- a split in the eyes;

- frequent night waking up at night;

- inability to focus on something;

- permanent head algii;

- memory impairment.

To talk about narcolepsy does not require the presence of all these manifestations at the same time. The listed symptoms may appear in varying degrees of intensity. In this case, a mandatory "attribute" of the described violation is daytime sleepiness in conjunction with one of the above symptoms. As the disease escalates, other symptoms join.

The disorder in question may adversely affect the learning activities of the crumbs. It can also cause a delay in physical formation.

There have been cases when babies with a diagnosis of narcolepsy also suffer from symptoms of restless legs or sleep apnea. Parents who have noticed these manifestations should immediately consult a somnologist to conduct polysomnography.

How to treat narcolepsy - many moms and dads are interested. Today, the described disorder belongs to the category of incurable ailments. Help for babies with narcolepsy is similar to therapeutic measures for adult patients.

Treatment of narcolepsy

After the initial examination by a neurologist to confirm or exclude the patient’s diagnosis of narcolepsy, he is referred for examination by a somnologist, who will study the details of the course of the ailment and conduct specific tests.

First of all, a multiple quantitative assessment test of drowsiness during the day (MSLT) and the method of registration of vital signs in a dream (polysomnography) are carried out. In order to investigate the disease through polysonography, the patient should spend the night in a specialized room under medical supervision, since this technique is aimed at studying night sleep. The considered method allows to detect violations of the order of sleep phases, as well as to exclude other possible pathologies.

The test should be conducted during the day after a night study. The patient falls asleep for approximately 20 minutes. Within two hours, there will be several such periods of sleep. While the patient is opochivaet, changes in the pattern of the face. The combination of the described research methods allows somnologist to diagnose narcolepsy.

Modern therapeutic methods today cannot completely cure the described ailment, but they can significantly alleviate the symptoms, which gives the patient hope to have a normal life. Therapeutic measures are primarily based on an integrated approach that includes drug therapy, changes in the daily routine, support of loved ones, relaxation methods.

Individuals with a diagnosis of narcolepsy are advised to adhere to the same sleep pattern, that is, they should fall asleep and wake up at a certain time every day. For most patients, the most suitable scheme, based on an eight-hour night's sleep, and should also include 2 fifteen-day nap. In order to improve the quality of night dreams, it is necessary to exclude the use of heavy foods, alcohol-containing and caffeine-containing liquids, nicotine, as well as the ingestion of food just before falling asleep. If narcolepsy is diagnosed, then patients should avoid driving a car. They are also advised to change jobs if their conditions are associated with risk or moving mechanical equipment.

Properly chosen remedy for narcolepsy has a stimulating effect in the daytime, thereby eliminating the problem of the ever-present drowsiness. To eliminate difficulties with periods of a quick night’s sleep, antidepressant medications are prescribed, giving the body the opportunity to relax and revive the routine of dreams and wakefulness.

Treatment of narcolepsy, characterized by daytime drowsiness in mild or moderate form, begins with analeptic Modafinil, which stimulates the waking state, which does not cause euphoria and addiction.

If narcolepsy is poorly treated with modafinil, then amphetamine derivatives are prescribed, for example, Methylphenidate or Methamphetamine. However, it is recommended to take these drugs with extreme caution, since they have a number of negative consequences in the form of accelerated contractions of myocardium, arousal, hypertension, addiction, which can turn into dependence.

The use of tricyclic antidepressants, such as Imipramine, helps reduce the incidence of cataplexy.

Since the symptoms of narcolepsy are caused by violent emotional outbursts, narcoleptics are recommended to practice all sorts of relaxation techniques, including breathing exercises, yoga exercises, and massage.