The Things That I do put Most People to Sleep

I just want to let my hair down (LOL, I don’t have that much!), and share some things on a more personal level. But I’ll also not sugar coat anything about the reality of sleep apnea. So, yeah, this’s a friendly chat; but friends don’t let friends die before their time. (I know, I have to ruin everything don’t I?)

I Have Sleep Super Powers

As I sit down at the controls I take a look at my monitors. Both screens show nice crisp signals, so I ease Sleepback a bit and keep an eye on things; waiting for my patients to fall asleep, and some real activity to begin. How’s that for being different? It’s not until my patients are asleep that things really start to happen.

Yet, a sense of peace comes over me as I watch the monitors, and everything gets kinda surreal, like I’m in another world; or on another planet.

Sitting here, I began to think back on things; and take some amusement in the fact that, among my many talents, I’m a CPAP Ninja!  That’s right! I have the ability to go into my patient’s room and start them on CPAP without rousing them!

Some will wake in the morning wondering when I came in and put the mask on. But actually, it’s not that I’m really that good, these patients are just that sleep deprived.

Common comments I get are, “It must be pretty boring watching people sleep”; and, “How do you stay awake all night?”

Those remarks used to really bother me, because, here I am literally saving people’s lives, and all I get is ‘it must be so boring, how can you stay awake?’ And yet, it just shows me how little people understand about what happens, or doesn’t happen but should, while they sleep.

Then I find myself going back in time and recalling all the patients  I’ve helped; and the knowledge that, yes, I really am actually saving people’s lives.

That’s a Dumb Question!

One guy comes to mind. I have my patients fill out some paperwork before the study starts. I’m in the control room, which is right outside the patient’s rooms, when this guy calls out, “What kind of question is this?” I went to his door and asked: “What do you mean?”

“This question”, he says, ” ‘Has today been unusual in any respect?’ Really,” he said looking up at me a bit sarcastically,  “I’m having a !@#$ sleep study, and you’re wondering if today’s been different in any way?”

I’m not sure if he’s serious or just joking, so I simply respond with “I guess the question should be reworded to read, ‘Up until now, has the day been unusual in any respect?”

Just the Facts Ma’am

The patients that have sleep studies come from all walks of life, and all ages. From infants, all the way to those towards the end of their lives. However, the ‘average’ patient is an obese middle aged male.

And yes, sleep apnea can run in families. This is because you inherit the physical characteristics that make sleep apnea more likely; such as a short thick neck; and being overweight. Among other characteristics.

Also, it’s estimated that 1 out of 5 Americans have mild sleep apnea. Although, by the time people are seen in the sleep lab, those numbers are significantly higher. For example, the average number of people placed on treatment during a sleep study is 50%-75% or more. Additionally, as many as 80% of people with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed.

However, this disorder is more common in men than women; or is it? Check out my article that addresses this:

http://sleepguyblog.com/bias-diagnosis-sleep-disorders-women/

Sleep Well and Prosper

So many people think that treating sleep disorders is only about sleeping better. I hear people say they don’t even know why they’re at the sleep lab because they don’t have any problem sleeping.

For example, I have patient’s, come to the lab and do their version of sleep. Many times, these same people tell me they sleep just fine and don’t know why they’re here.

And yet that same person might have high blood pressure, or other heart issues, or be diabetic. When I explain how their heart condition or diabetes might just be caused by sleep apnea they start thinking. Unless, of course, they’re in denial; and there’s a lot of that out there.

Maybe they really believe they’re sleeping well. Maybe they know something’s wrong, but just don’t want to see a Doctor. Seems that most people seen in the sleep lab are there because someone else noticed a problem.

Usually, it’s a spouse or significant other that has the complaint. That’s because they’re the ones kept awake by loud snoring, or ‘all that thrashing about’ during the night. Many couples no longer sleep in the same bed, or even the same room for this very reason!

Then, there are patients who hope that sleep apnea is the problem, and CPAP is the answer. However, they don’t ‘qualify’ for treatment. Then, when I get them up in the morning, and they realize they don’t have the mask on, they quietly go about finishing the morning paperwork; leaving the lab in silence.

I feel sorry for those people really; here’s one more thing that isn’t their problem. It’s unfortunate because not knowing can be worse than knowing. I guess I can’t be Superman to everyone.

 Closing Thoughts on Sleep

So what do you think? Because although more and more people are hearing about sleep apnea, there’s still much work to be done in the way of educating the general population about this outright deadly, but easily treatable, disorder.

Please don’t let denial kill you or someone you love.

Therefore, carefully consider your life or that of the one you love; and if you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment. Who knows, you might just share something that could help someone else.

I’ll also do my best to answer any questions, and/or respond to your comments. Thank you.

Till next time…Blessings.

Is There a Cure for Narcolepsy?


In this article, I’ll define Narcolepsy, discuss the difficulties with proper diagnosis; and then talk about some treatment options. As well as ultimately answer the question, ‘is there a cure for Narcolepsy?’

Is there a Cure for Narcolepsy?

So just what is Narcolepsy anyway? And where did this crazy word come from? The word itself actually comes from two Greek words which basically means ‘numbness attack’.

And there are essentially two types of this disorder; Those who experience muscle weakness during a strong emotional event, and those who don’t. And while this disorder occurs in about 1 out of every 2,000 people, yet most remain undiagnosed. In fact, Narcolepsy without muscle weakness is the most difficult to diagnose.

Furthermore, this disorder affects both men and women equally. Age of onset depends on whether it runs in your family or not. However, if there’s a family history, it’ll start earlier in life; otherwise, it can start just about anytime. Interestingly, it usually occurs earlier in African Americans; who also suffer more severe daytime sleepiness.

Now, let’s see what Narcolepsy looks like.

Signs and Symptoms

The four classic signs of this disorder are:

  • Excessive sleepiness with ‘sleep attacks’.
  • Hallucinations, which really are dreams breaking through into the waking mind.
  • Feeling paralyzed just before falling asleep, or just after waking up. This is known as sleep paralysis.
  • Muscle weakness caused by strong emotions. This is called Cataplexy.

Also, some people will exhibit something called ‘automatic behaviors’. This usually involves habitual behaviors, where a person will be doing something, then suddenly ‘zone out’. They’ll continue to do what they were doing, only at a lower quality level; but not be aware of anything.

Additionally, while people without Narcolepsy generally sleep for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs before entering dream sleep, someone with Narcolepsy can fall asleep and immediately be in dream land.

Not only that, but sleep comes on suddenly. However, some say they don’t just ‘pass out; yet others say they do. All the while having a crazy sleep schedule; along with laying awake at night, but fighting sleep during the day.

Eating disorders are also common in this disease. In fact, binge eating in childhood onset narcolepsy leads to obesity. These, as well as impulsive behaviors, are more prevalent in narcolepsy with muscle weakness (cataplexy).

There are also people who have thought they were going crazy because they would see things that weren’t there. Again, these hallucinations are actually dreams breaking through into waking life.

However, sleep paralysis is probably the most terrifying symptom. You see and hear things that aren’t there, all while not being able to move; and breathing can even be difficult. Sometimes you sense a presence in the room with you, which can be quite unsettling, to say the least.

What Causes Narcolepsy?

There’s strong evidence that, at least in some cases, it is hereditary. But there are other factors as well; and in some cases, the cause is unknown.

For example, there are certain neurons that regulate our energy levels. When these guys are firing full tilt, you become anxious; which is part of the fight-or-flight response. If there are low numbers of these cells, they cause sleepiness and eating disorders which can lead to obesity.

And people with Narcolepsy, have lower numbers of these neurons. That’s why if you have this disorder, you can also suffer from eating disorders and struggle with obesity. There’s also the possibility of it being an autoimmune disorder, where the body literally attacks itself.

Other possible causes include Food intolerance, brain damage, or tumors. As a result, diagnosis can take many years, especially if cataplexy is present. One reason for this is because Narcolepsy without muscle weakness can be misdiagnosed as depression.

With that in mind, what was it like to have Narcolepsy before people knew what it was? Especially considering the alternative.

Let’s take a look at something that’s quite intriguing.

 Narcolepsy or Schizophrenia?

Part of this disorder involves hallucinations, and these can become so intense, and the person so delusional, that they could be misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia. The question is, has this actually happened? Or, has anyone ever been admitted to an insane asylum, when really all they had was Narcolepsy?

Yet, while there are similarities between the two, there are also clear differences. Narcoleptic hallucinations are more visual; whereas Schizophrenic hallucinations are mostly auditory. And although both disorders exhibit delusional states, the more intense delusions in Narcolepsy are related to medications, not the disease itself.

So then, in order to properly diagnose Narcolepsy, you would first spend a night in a sleep lab. This would do 2 things: 1-Either establish or eliminate the possibility of sleep apneas the cause of daytime drowsiness. And 2-Establish a baseline for the follow up daytime study.

The daytime study consists of a series of naps to determine how fast you fall asleep, and if you enter dream sleep early on. Once properly diagnosed, getting the right treatment is next.

Treatment

Let’s take a brief look at both conventional and alternative treatment options.

Conventional

Some of the common prescription medications are Provigil and Nuvigil for excessive daytime sleepiness. Medications that reduce the amount of dream sleep treat sleep paralysis and hallucinations. These include anti-depressants such as Prozac and Effexor.

However, drugs only mask the symptoms and don’t address the cause of this disorder. Let’s look at some treatment options that do.

Alternative

Considering the evidence that Narcolepsy could be an autoimmune disorder, intolerance to certain foods is worth considering. If that’s something you want to explore, talk with your Nutritionist or Dr. about an elimination diet.

Also, Calcium, Magnesium, and a little guy called Co-Enzyme Q10, have been shown to reduce sleep paralysis.

In addition to these, studies show a supplement called 5-HTP help reduce Cataplexy and improve nighttime sleep. 5-HTP also naturally occurs in your body and helps build up Serotonin levels. And if you remember, Serotonin helps us sleep.

Keep in mind that regular exercise and nap times can be very beneficial as well.

Conclusion

So, Narcolepsy can very crippling, and go undiagnosed for years. This must be very frustrating to that person who might begin to question their own sanity. Moreover, the cause of Narcolepsy in some people remains a bit of a mystery.

But the question is, is there a cure for Narcolepsy? Unfortunately, not at this time; however, as you’ve seen, there are some pretty effective treatment options available. Therefore, if you have Narcolepsy, or if you know someone with this disorder, a Doctor visit is a good place to start.

Till next time, blessings.


, please post a comment; maybe get a conversation started on this rather debilitating disorder.