Learning to Control Sleep Attacks:
Understanding the Severity of Narcolepsy
Gabrielle Jenaé Gray
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
It has been analyzed that humans ultimately spend one-third of their lives asleep. Yet, what is considered to be a “good night of sleep” is rarely achieved in this generation. Hypersomnias are sleep disorders caused by excessive sleepiness. One type of hypersomnia is narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder caused by the brain’s issues with maintaining normal sleep-wake cycles (Narcolepsy and sleep, 2011) which result in sleep attacks. People suffering from narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness despite the amount of nighttime sleep beforehand. As public education grows for narcolepsy and physicians gain more training in the diagnosis it is important to analyzes the causes, symptoms, treatments and diagnosis. The thought is that narcolepsy occurs when REM sleep occurs while the person is still awake. The episodes can cause instant sleep and occur during any type of activity at any time of the day (Louis, C. 2012, July 30). Narcolepsy is a lifelong disorder that affects almost one in every two thousand in the United States alone (Ellen Kuwana, 2011).
In order to understand the concept and the disorder narcolepsy one must first understand normal sleep patterns. Circadian rhythms are internal biological changes that occur on a daily schedule. The body’s internal clock is control by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) located in the hypothalamus. Typically each night the body passes through five stages of sleep. There is REM sleep and the other four stages are known as Stages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is constructed by rapid eye movements, dreams, muscle paralysis, and high levels of brain activity. The other stages are known as non-REM (NREM) sleep which are the stages of deep sleep in Stages 3 and 4 early in the night and Stage 2...