Frequently Asked Questions
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Narcolepsy and CataplexyWhat is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder. The principal symptoms are excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), cataplexy (loss of muscle tone), hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, disrupted night-time sleep and automatic behaviour (being unaware of what you are doing). A person suffering from narcolepsy may have some or all of these symptoms.
For more information, see our Narcolepsy and Cataplexy page.
Can Narcolepsy be cured?
No, not at this time, but with appropriate medication and correct eating habits, a person with narcolepsy can live a good life.
Does Narcolepsy shorten your life span?
No. People with narcolepsy live a normal life-span.
What is Cataplexy?
Cataplexy is an abrupt loss of voluntary muscle tone, usually triggered by emotional arousal. Attacks can range in severity from a brief sensation of weakness to total physical collapse lasting several minutes.
What is a Hypnogogic Hallucination?
Hypnagogic hallucinations are intense, vivid dreams, sometimes ccompanied by frightening auditory, visual and tactile sensations, and usually occur just on wakening or falling asleep, but may occur at other times. They are often extremely difficult to distinguish from reality.
What is Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is the inability to move when waking up or falling asleep. This may be momentary, or longer, or multiple attacks may occur. This condition can be terrifying, especially if it occurs with a frightening hypnagogic hallucination.
Can sleep paralysis hurt me?
No , although it can be very frightening at the time if you don't know what is happening, it is not harmful.
What is Automatic Behaviour?
Automatic Behaviour is when you are 'asleep on your feet' so to speak and are not aware of what you are doing.
What medications are used to treat narcolepsy?
Please contact the NODSS Nurse-Counsellor for more information (see 'contacts' page).
Are narcolepsy medications addictive?
When taken correctly, in the prescribed dosage, narcoleptics do not become addicted to their medication.
Are Herbal Remedies helpful?
No. Although some herbal compounds, such as guarana, can be used to aid a narcoleptic's normal medications, when needed.
Medication and pregnancy?
Although we know of no current research on this matter, we do have many members who have taken there medication with no side affects to them or their children. In fact we have members who are now grandmothers, with no problems noted in their children or grandchildren.
Idiopathic HypersomniaCan Idiopathic Hypersomnia develop into narcolepsy?
Although it may not happen, in some cases people with Idiopathic Hypersomnia develop Narcolepsy.
How does this affect the medication?
The treatment used is the same.
InsomniaShould sleeping pills be used to treat insomnia?
No, although they can be of some use in the short term.
Sleep StudiesCan a sleep study do any harm?
No, although it can be somewhat uncomfortable, you can not be electrocuted or come to any other harm.
Will I be alone during the Sleep Study?
You will be in a private room, but there will be a nurse and/or sleep technician in the next room - just a ring of your bell away!
Can I get up to go to the bathroom during a sleep study?
Yes, just ring, and the nurse will come and assist you.
Is a sleep study necessary for diagnosis?
Yes, it is a very well established method of analysing sleep conditions, and some disorders and conditions would not be diabnosed without a sleep study.
Is one sleep study all that is needed?
No, it sometimes needs more than one sleep study for a full diagnosis. Sleep studies are also used for patients with sleep apnoeas to callibrate their CPAP machines to the correct settings for optimum sleep. Sleep studies are also often used in research, for many different sleep disorders.
Sleep ApnoeaWhat is Sleep Apnoea?
See the 'Sleep Apnoeas' page.
If I have sleep apnoea and do not use my splint or CPAP machine, will it harm my health?
Yes. Sleep apnoea is a very dangerous condition, potentially causing heart failure and death. It is a serious condition which should not be ignored.
Other Sleep Disorders and QuestionsCan Circadian Rhythm Disorders be treated?
Yes, it can, although it takes a fairly long time and it requires the sufferer to follow the treatment assiduously.
Can RLS and PLMD be adequately treated?
Yes, they can, although it can take time to find the treatment most suited to the individual patient.
Can all sleep disorders be dangerous?
Yes! Untreated, sleep disorders potentially cause more accidents at the home, on the road and in the workplace than any other single causes except alcohol or illicit drugs. They should never be ignored.
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