Narcolepsy and Sleep Patterns
While the sleep that results from narcolepsy looks like ordinary sleep, researchers have found at least one key difference. Normal sleep is a cyclical process that alternates between periods of rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. During the NREM part of the cycle, the entire body slows down — pulse, breathing, blood pressure, and brain wave activity are all lowered. When the REM cycle begins, the body remains asleep, but the brain remains becomes significantly active; brains waves as recorded by an electroencephalograph (EEG) more closely resemble those of the waking brain. It is during REM sleep that most dreaming occurs.
Healthy Sleep Patterns
In healthy individuals, sleep begins with the NREM phase. After 60 minutes or so of NREM sleep, REM sleep begins. A short time later, the entire cycle begins again.
Narcolepsy – Sleep Attack
In a narcoleptic sleep attack, in contrast, researchers have found that REM sleep begins almost instantly, with no introductory NREM sleep. The precise significance of this is not yet understood, but it does provide a useful diagnostic tool as well as a clue for researchers to pursue in trying to understand this mysterious disorder.
- READ NEXT » Causes of Narcolepsy
The cause or causes of this disorder are unknown, but brain infection, head trauma, or brain tumors may be behind some cases. It is known that narcolepsy almost never the result of insomnia or sleep deprivation. . .
Read » Causes of Narcolepsy
- READ PREVIOUS ARTICLES:
« Narcolepsy & Symptoms
Narcolepsy is a rare neurological sleep disorder…It is most characterized by Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS). . .
Read » Narcolepsy & Symptoms
- « Narcolepsy: Risk Factors
Because the symptoms of narcolepsy vary from one individual to individual (it is estimated that only 20-25 percent of people with narcolepsy experience all four of the classic symptoms), this disorder is frequently misdiagnosed…
Read » Narcolepsy: Risk Factors
Source: Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; Prescription for Nutritional Healing, p. 590