Larry A. Law
Narcolepsy involves excessive daytime sleepiness. The pressure to sleep is equivalent to having stayed awake for 3 or 4 days straight. It affects 1 in every 2000 people and is as common as Multiple Sclerosis. A related problem is called sleep paralysis. This is a frightening loss of the ability to move or talk when waking up from sleep. It affects people as they begin to wake up. People are unable to lift or open their eyelids, turn over, cry out, or move any muscle that controls their limbs. Researchers believe it is associated with REM sleep. Normally, the paralysis of REM sleep gradually wears off and you regain control of your body. But in this case, it stays and you become trapped within your body. You hear everything around you but you cannot respond in any manner.
Another form of narcolepsy is called cataplexy. This involves falling down with a sudden loss of muscle control like a seizure (but it is not a seizure). Your body is like a puppet on a string. A strong emotion or a loud noise can cause you to collapse.
The last problem is called Fatal Familial Insomnia. It is a rare, genetic disorder where you cannot fall asleep. It is always terminal in less than 10 months. Without the ability to fall asleep, you die. It is a terrible disease that leads to mental instability and collapse of body functions.
Some of these problems with sleep are really scary. It makes me very grateful for my occasional difficulties falling asleep. In my last article on sleep, I will summarize some of the recommendations Dr. Walker makes for helping individuals achieve better quality sleep.
We can't always know what's going on inside, but our body tells us it's not functioning well when we listen to clues (sleep, bone health, bowels, congnition, etc.) and we can work to provide the nutrition it needs. Time and consistency are critical. Hang in there with good, helpful habits for the long haul. In addition, the emotional, mental, social, and spiritual areas are all important too. See my book for more educational help.