- Posted on- Sep 28, 2016
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Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder which is caused by the brains’ inability to regulate sleep cycles. At various times during the day, the patient can fall asleep at any time for anything from a few seconds up to a few minutes. The patient has little or no control over falling asleep and it can happen at the most inconvenient and embarrassing times for example, whilst driving, during a meeting or conversation or even during sex.
While Narcolepsy isn't very common, it still affects a lot of people. It normally manifests itself in the patient's teens to early twenties. However, Narcolepsy can start in both the very young and the old.
Causes of Narcolepsy
There is a great deal of debate with regards to what causes Narcolepsy. At this time, there isn't a definitive answer.
What is generally believed though is that the brain’ normal pattern during sleep is that during the first hour, the brains electrical activity reduces. After this hour, the electrical activity starts to increase again. This is accompanied by rapid eye movements (REM) and deep relaxation of your muscles. After a while, the brain electrical activity starts to slow down again. This cycle repeats itself a number of times throughout sleep.
Some investigation has shown that a person suffering from Narcolepsy doesn't follow this same pattern, or rather the initial slowing of the brains electrical activity is a lot quicker than in a non-narcoleptic.
This sleep cycle is controlled by neurones within the brain. For narcoleptics, it has been noted that the hormone Hypocretin is a lot lower than in people who don't suffer from Narcolepsy. Hypocretin it is believed controls the neurones which in turn control the brains activity during sleep.