The day is to work, and the night is to sleep. At least, this is what obtains for most people. Of course, there are the outliers. Some people work at night and sleep during the day. Then there’s that group that sleeps all night and day!
It is quite distressing when one sleeps away during the day while productive activities at home, school, or work should be going on. The inability to stay alert isn’t for the lack of trying, but it so happens that nothing can be done about it.
This condition is known as Narcolepsy. It is a neurological disorder wherein the person has excessive and uncontrollable daytime sleepiness.
The cause of this condition is unknown. However, some studies are trying to find a relationship between genes and a particular hormone produced. This condition can occur at any age, and the risk is higher in people who have a family history.
The symptoms of narcolepsy include disruption of daily activities due to excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy or whole-body muscular paralysis. There may also be hallucinations or perceptions that occur in the absence of the corresponding sense organ. There can be a disruption of night sleep as well.
See also: Are you sleeping well?
Making a diagnosis of narcolepsy is via a detailed history and physical examination. The examining doctor would review sleep records carry out some nvestigations. Examples of such investigations include a polysomnogram and multiple sleep latency tests.
Treatment is also not specific, but rather targeted activities to help the symptoms. These include lifestyle changes where the person is expected to abstain from substances like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. The person would also be advised to reduce the amount of food taken, exercise often, and to set and follow schedules for daily activities.
Then, if necessary medications like stimulants and antidepressants may be prescribed to help improve quality of sleep and alleviate symptoms.