Types Of Narcolepsy (2021)

Updated March, 2021
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There are two types of narcolepsy. Type 1 is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and the presence of cataplexy or deficiency of a protein known as hypocretin, which helps the brain regulate sleep cycles. Type 2 is characterized by EDS without experiencing cataplexy. Both types of narcolepsy cause the sufferer to endure extreme fatigue during their daily routine.

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder often characterized by extreme drowsiness due to your brain's inability to regulate your sleep cycles. Though it's a chronic disorder, it's manageable through a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Narcolepsy is typically identified through a variety of symptoms.

Type 1 narcolepsy

The first type of narcolepsy is easily identified through the presence of cataplexy, or extreme muscle weakness during wakefulness. This type is also identified through a blood test to determine the absence of hypocretin. A low hypocretin level determines the presence of narcolepsy even the patient isn't experiencing cataplexy.

Type 2 narcolepsy

This type of narcolepsy occurs without cataplexy or a low hypocretin level. It's typically harder to diagnose, as its symptoms can be mistaken for other illnesses, but follows the same pattern of symptoms experienced by those who suffer from narcolepsy type 1.

Signs and symptoms of narcolepsy

There are several signs of narcolepsy, and sufferers of both type 1 and type 2 experience similar symptoms.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness. Patients report waking well-rested, but experiencing acute and overwhelming fatigue throughout the rest of the day.
  • Cataplexy. Extreme muscle weakness during wakefulness.
  • Sleep paralysis. The inability to move or speak immediately after waking.

Treating narcolepsy

Though it's a chronic illness, narcolepsy can be managed through a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.

  • Medication. These include antidepressants, certain sleeping medications, and sodium oxybate. Talk to your doctor to determine which medication is right for you.
  • Mental health. It's important to treat your symptoms of depression and anxiety to optimize your quality of sleep. Give yourself time to relax before sleeping and embark on a regular anxiety management routine nightly.
  • Lifestyle. Change your diet to avoid consuming things that hinder your sleep, such as caffeine and alcohol, particularly before bed. Change your sleep environment to ensure a good night's sleep. Limit your screen time before going to bed.

Will a new mattress help with narcolepsy?

Whether you were diagnosed with narcolepsy years ago or you only suspect you may have this illness, you've likely tried everything. It might be time to really consider your sleep environment. Many people go years without considering their mattress. But as we grow older, our bodies change. Replacing your old, uncomfortable mattress is a step in the right direction toward improving your overall sleep quality, and your health.

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