Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects one’s ability to control and maintain normal (physiologic) wake and sleep patterns. People with narcolepsy  have excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. They may also suddenly fall asleep at any time, during any type of activity.

In a typical sleep cycle, there are consecutive sleep stages: early stage of sleep, then the deeper stages and finally (after about 90 minutes) rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. People with narcolepsy go into REM sleep almost immediately in the sleep cycle missing the other stages and sometimes while they’re awake.

Type 1 narcolepsy comes with a sudden loss of muscle tone that causes weakness and makes you unable to control your muscles (cataplexy). Type 2 is narcolepsy without cataplexy.

Narcolepsy Symptoms

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness: In general, excessive day time somnolence  makes it harder to do everyday activities, even if you got enough sleep at night. The lack of energy can make it hard to concentrate. You have memory lapses and feel depressed or exhausted.
  • Cataplexy: This can cause problems ranging from slurred speech to total body collapse, depending on the muscles involved. It’s often triggered by intense emotions such as surprise, laughter, or anger.
  • Sleep paralysis: You may be unable move or speak while falling asleep or waking up. These episodes usually last a few seconds to several minutes.
  • Disrupted sleep: You might have a hard time staying asleep at night because of things like vivid dreams or body movements.

How is Narcolepsy diagnosed?

At San Tan Cardiovascular Center, we are equipped to diagnose and treat this sleep disorder. Your healthcare provider will perform and order:

  • Physical exam and medical history.
  • Sleep records: Your doctor might ask you to keep track of your symptoms and sleep schedule for a few weeks.
  • Polysomnogram : This is done at San Tan Sleep Solutions. It is an overnight test that takes constant measurements while you’re asleep to record problems in your sleep cycle. A polysomnogram can help reveal whether you go into REM sleep at unusual times in your sleep cycle. It can rule out other problems that might be causing your symptoms.
  • Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT): This is also done at San Tan Sleep Solutions. The test takes place during the day to measure your tendency to fall asleep and find out whether certain elements of REM sleep happen at unusual times during the day. You’ll take four or five short naps, usually 2 hours apart.

How is Narcolepsy treated?

  • Lifestyle changes. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Eat smaller meals more often rather than heavy meals. Control your sleep schedule. Schedule daytime naps (10 to 15 minutes long). Follow an exercise and meal schedule.
  •  Medications like stimulants to treat sleepiness, antidepressants and other medications.

How do I get started?

Contact San Tan Cardiovascular Center today to make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers.

At this appointment:

  • we will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a non-invasive, diagnostic test to further determine your medical condition,
  • any pertinent testing that needs to be done beforehand will also be ordered at this time.

Our billing department will then contact your health insurance company to obtain prior authorization.  Upon receiving insurance authorization, the test will be scheduled.