The ninth of series of Autoimmune Disorders. My reasons for this series is twofold. First, to make people aware of the many Autoimmune Disorders and to give some history of the well known or more prevalent ones. It is noted that 1 in 5 Americans have been diagnosed with at least one Autoimmune Disorder, of which 75% are women. Second, allowing people to be aware, especially those who are affected by Autoimmune Disorders, that they don’t need to live with the residual aches and pains, inflammation, stress, depression, and anxiety. There are alternative options that work alongside conventional therapies. My focus, as a Reiki Practitioner and Wellness Advocate, is to educate and better help those who are suffering needlessly. I teach a class on the benefits of Reiki Energy Healing for those who have been diagnosed with Autoimmune Disorders. For more information and to register, please contact me at 860-357-5263.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day.
In a typical sleep cycle, we initially enter the early stages of sleep followed by deeper sleep stages and ultimately (after about 90 minutes) rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. For people suffering from narcolepsy, REM sleep occurs almost immediately in the sleep cycle, as well as periodically during the waking hours. It is in REM sleep that we can experience dreams and muscle paralysis — which explains some of the symptoms of narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy usually begins between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can become apparent at any age. In many cases, narcolepsy is undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated.
What Causes Narcolepsy?
The cause of narcolepsy is not known; however, scientists have made progress toward identifying genes strongly associated with the disorder. These genes control the production of chemicals in the brain that may signal sleep and awake cycles. Some experts think narcolepsy may be due to a deficiency in the production of a chemical called hypocretin by the brain. In addition, researchers have discovered abnormalities in various parts of the brain involved in regulating REM sleep. These abnormalities apparently contribute to symptom development. According to experts, it is likely narcolepsy involves multiple factors that interact to cause neurological dysfunction and REM sleep disturbances.
What Are the Symptoms of Narcolepsy?
Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS): In general, EDS interferes with normal activities on a daily basis, whether or not a person with narcolepsy has sufficient sleep at night. People with EDS report mental cloudiness, a lack of energy and concentration, memory lapses, a depressed mood, and/or extreme exhaustion.
Cataplexy: This symptom consists of a sudden loss of muscle tone that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control. It can cause symptoms ranging from slurred speech to total body collapse, depending on the muscles involved, and is often triggered by intense emotions such as surprise, laughter, or anger.
Hallucinations : Usually, these delusional experiences are vivid and frequently frightening. The content is primarily visual, but any of the other senses can be involved. These are called hypnagogic hallucinations when accompanying sleep onset and hypnopompic hallucinations when they occur during awakening.
Sleep paralysis : This symptom involves the temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up. These episodes are generally brief, lasting a few seconds to several minutes. After episodes end, people rapidly recover their full capacity to move and speak.
How Is Narcolepsy Diagnosed?
A physical exam and exhaustive medical history are essential for proper diagnosis of narcolepsy. However, none of the major symptoms is exclusive to narcolepsy. Several specialized tests, which can be performed in a sleep disorders clinic or sleep lab, usually are required before a diagnosis can be established. Two tests that are considered essential in confirming a diagnosis of narcolepsy are the polysomnogram (PSG) and the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT).
The PSG is an overnight test that takes continuous multiple measurements while a patient is asleep to document abnormalities in the sleep cycle. A PSG can help reveal whether REM sleep occurs at abnormal times in the sleep cycle and can eliminate the possibility that an individual’s symptoms result from another condition.
The MSLT is performed during the day to measure a person’s tendency to fall asleep and to determine whether isolated elements of REM sleep intrude at inappropriate times during the waking hours. As part of the test, an individual is asked to take four or five short naps usually scheduled two hours apart.
How Is Narcolepsy Treated?
Although there is no cure for narcolepsy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder (EDS and symptoms of abnormal REM sleep, such as cataplexy) can be controlled in most people with drug treatment. Sleepiness is treated with amphetamine-like stimulants, while the symptoms of abnormal REM sleep are treated with antidepressant drugs.
There has recently been a new medication approved for those who suffer from narcolepsy with cataplexy. This drug, called Xyrem, helps people with narcolepsy get a better night’s sleep, allowing them to be less sleepy during the day. Patients with narcolepsy can be substantially helped — but not cured — by medical treatment.
Lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and heavy meals, regulating sleep schedules, scheduling daytime naps (10-15 minutes in length), and establishing a normal exercise and meal schedule may also help to reduce symptoms.
What Are the Holistic and Alternative Modalities for Narcolepsy?
Reiki Energy Healing is one of the holistic and alternative modalities to help decrease or release residual inflammation, aches and pains, and mental and emotional stresses due to chronic Autoimmune Disorders.
Reiki supports and enhances the body’s ability to heal itself. It works equally well whether it is used to help accelerate the body’s healing process while recovering from illness or as a form of preventive self-care.
It is one of the most powerful techniques known for alleviating stress, anxiety, and pain. It naturally creates deep states of relaxation and feelings of well-being.
Reiki supports and strengthens the immune system’s ability to fight infection of any kind, including viruses and bacteria.
It is not just for treating physical problems. It works with the body’s natural healing wisdom to restore states of inner peace and balance at all levels… physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Those affected with Autoimmune Disorders quite often deal with stress, anxiety, depression, lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, toxic overload from pharmaceutical medications, lack of mobility, and/or decreased social activities. Reiki can release these symptoms, increase mobility, and facilitate a return to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Other modalities may include Certified Pure Essential Oils, meditation, sound healing, pranic healing, crystal healing, EFT/Tapping, yoga, qi gong, acupressure/acupressure, and dietary changes.
Information on Narcolepsy is from WebMD.com